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The Power of Jacobs Camp

I am/was an anxious parent — maybe it’s part of my Jewish neurosis or that’s just how I’m wired. And for any mom of a child who doesn’t fit within a conventional “box” (whatever that may be), parenting can be that more nerve-inducing. The idea of sending my child to sleep-away camp put my stress levels at Defcon 1.

We have two very different children: We knew our older daughter would adapt just fine at camp; our younger daughter, Sadie, was the question mark. She’s abundantly kind and creative, but terribly shy and disorganized. She’s not the type to ask for help (even when she really needs it), and coming out of Covid, hadn’t had any sleepovers beyond family members. We wanted to give her the Jewish sleep-away camp experience but at what cost — Could she adjust? Would she know how to make friends? How would she handle multi-step tasks that require executive functioning skills?

Anna spent a huge amount of time consulting with me by phone and email during fall – graciously responding to my world of hypotheticals and assuring me about the staff members and processes in place to help every child, including Sadie, experience the best summer. My husband and I are notoriously indecisive, but Anna’s continued reassurances helped us confirm that BOTH children would go to Jacobs this summer.

 The camp session was a wonder for Sadie — she truly blossomed. We saw the proof in the photo updates; she accomplished feats like swimming in the lake and making friends. In fact, it was wonderful to see the evolution of her opening up through the photographs. The first few days of session 2, she was always on the edge of the group shots or slightly adjacent in the back; as the days progressed, we noticed she moved to the center of group photos, arms around her cabin-mates, genuinely smiling with kids. She even performed in the talent show in front of Olim! For our daughter, who shies away from the spotlight and usually hates attention, this was a miracle. Simply put, we underestimated our daughter.

When she got home at the end of the session, she cried because she missed her camp friends. Though she was sad, it made us so happy — the fact that she was able to create friendships, on her own, and understand what it is to forge connections. Within this loving environment, she harnessed skills regarding independence, responsibility, organization, and collaboration.

I am so grateful to Anna and the whole Jacobs team for not only giving both my children a summer of a lifetime, but also allowing these kids a chance to discover themselves and unleash talents and abilities they never knew they possessed.

About the Author

Melanie Winderlich Preis

Melanie Winderlich Preis is an editor at Mommy Poppins as well as a freelance writer in Atlanta. She is married to Jacobs Camp alum, Matt Preis, and has two wonderful human kids, Sadie and Jillian, as well as a four-legged “son” named Oliver. She likes Taco Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Frosty Friday, and alliteration.