Our Farber-Bruch Early Childhood Center and Robbins Corenman Afterschool program closed on March 16th, in compliance with the closure of NYC Public Schools; distance learning opportunities and resources quickly launched for nearly 300 impacted families. Our teen groups have gathered online and learned with a host of wonderful Jewish educators. Virtual Passover Seders for our camp families included live music, storytelling, and art. We led creative, customized Shabbat experiences for all age groups, from early childhood through teens. In addition, our Women’s Center took its teen girl support groups online, maintaining a continuum of service and care.
Understanding the importance of providing onsite care for youth, after months of social isolation and parents desperately needing to rebuild their finances, Marks JCH launched Emergency Child Care for children of essential and frontline workers in May. In addition, our boutique summer camping program is serving over 150 children and bringing teens and young adults back to the J to serve as serving as counselors. Marks JCH summer program is operating both onsite (in our building) as well as at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds in Staten Island, giving both campers and their teen counselors a chance to learn, play, and grow in the great outdoors. The JCH is following every mandate and guideline provided by CDC, NYS and the NYC Department of Health, including daily wellness and temperature checks, smalls static groups operating as pods, staff and counselors in appropriate PPE at all times, RNs on site in both locations, staggered arrival and dismissals for all children and staff, and more. While camp may look different in the era of COVID-19, our programs remain true to our values of person-centered experiences for children, including hands-on science experiments, culinary arts, low-contact sports, ropes courses, teva (nature), Jewish education centered around our summer theme of tikva (hope), archery, weekly challah baking, and so much more! Seeing the smiles of campers, counselors, and parents every morning reminds us that kids are still kids, being together matters, and this brave new world is one we must learn to navigate together.