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Parents Grapple With Late August, When Options for Kids Dwindle
Jewish Exponent, Article by Rachel Winicov
Published Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The reappearance of brown bag lunches and yellow school buses may cause more than a few groans from students, but for parents, the start of school offers a respite from hectic kid-filled summers.

To achieve 9 a.m.-to-3 p.m. quietude, however, guardians must endure the few weeks between the end of camp and the beginning of school.

David Roth of Bala Cynwyd has four sons, the youngest of whom is 11 and attends URJ 6 Points Sports Academy, a Jewish overnight camp in North Carolina. This year, the overnight camp finished July 30, leaving Roth to contend with four weeks of unstructured free time.

“It’s a lot of time to fill,” he said. “[The last two weeks of August] were always a time when we could actually go somewhere together as a family,” but, “I can’t take off for a whole month.”

He noted the unfilled time, even when considering 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. options at day camps, “can be hard to deal with while working.” He added he appreciates the return of school because “it’s nice to have a regular schedule.”

Most camps, day and overnight, end around Aug. 18, entrusting parents with two weeks before the start of many schools on Sept. 5. The long days often leave kids with empty schedules and parents with a migraine trying to fill the time.  

Some parents want their kids to prepare for the fast-approaching academic year during those weeks, and the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood now offers an educational program that blends learning and summer fun.

The JCC’s KidVentures Post Camp will run from Aug. 21 to Sept. 1. The program succeeds the JCC’s popular day camp, which ends Aug. 18.

While the traditional day camp emphasizes fun summer experiences, the post-camp focuses on enrichment, with math-centric cooking and engineering challenges. The activities entertain campers, but they also provide a foundation for the upcoming school year.

On the educational focus, Kaiserman JCC CEO Amy Krulik said it’s “like putting applesauce in cookies.”

She added, “they might not recognize the science part,” because the activities involve “having fun with a group of friends. It makes it not feel like school.”

The post camp will have 50 to 60 attendees, from infants to 13-year-olds, compared to the 325 kids at regular JCC camp. A large factor for the drop in enrollment is families’ tendencies to vacation inAugust.

Jeff Hoffman of Merion vacations with his family then.

“Generally, there’s a two-week period at the end of August, and we go right to the beach for a week,” the dad of three said.

His younger children, ages 14 and 17, attend boy’s overnight Camp Shohola in Greeley, Pa. They return home Aug.