Do you know a Jewish teenager who is singing the summer blues? "I have nothing to do. I'm too old for camp, too young to be a counselor, and tired of the same old thing." If this sounds familiar, don't worry. The solution is right here in Napanock -- high up in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Torah Teen Resort is a most unusual summer camp especially geared to youngsters with little or no Jewish background, and is designed to introduce them to Yiddishkeit and true Jewish living in a fun-filled summer environment.
As often happens with great ideas, this unique camp developed over time and through the shared efforts and talents of several remarkable individuals. It all Started a few years ago, when Rabbi and Mrs. Pinny Herman, the Chabad Shluchim in Raleigh, North Carolina, hired two girls from Crown Heights to run their summer camp. The girls developed strong and enduring connections with many of their campers, and when one of the girls got married last year, several of these kids, who were teenagers by then, came to Crown Heights to attend the wedding. During the Shabbos before the wedding, the boys from North Carolina were befriended by Yisroel Altein and Binyomin Wolf, brothers of the two former counselors. Yisroel and Benny asked them about their plans for the coming summer, and discovered that the boys were not sure what they would be doing, since they were too old for standard summer camps. The two of them promised to try and arrange something for them.
Meanwhile, Moishe Plotkin of Los Angeles, California, was working on a similar type of program for a few kids he knew at home. Moishe and Yisroel were learning in the same Yeshiva, and it wasn't long before they decided to join forces. The necessity for a Jewish camp for non-affiliated teenagers was clear, and so the Torah Teen Resort was born. Moishe contacted another good friend, Yitzchok Hecht, to help get things started. Yitzchok's father, Rabbi Shea Hecht, and his uncle, Rabbi Sholom Ber Hecht, chairmen of NCFJE, agreed to host the project and to allow them to use their campsite at the Shaloh Center II in the Catskill Mountains -- the same campsite that is the home of the Ivy League Torah Study Program and Yeshiva Hadar HaTorah each summer.
Camp began as planned. A group of boys from an array of backgrounds embarked on a summer filled with fun and learning. Three Torah classes a day were held in various subjects, ranging from Jewish Law to Chumash to Chassidic philosophy. Trips included tubing down the Delaware River, a day at Six Flags Great Adventures, roller-skating, horseback riding, and the "water hole". There were tzitzis workshops and lectures on interesting Jewish topics. A "Kumzits" at a New York State reservoir added a new dimension to Jewish Music. A schedule of inter-camp sports gave the boys a chance to show their talents as well as to interact with other Jewish boys their own age.
"The atmosphere created by the Ivy League and Hadar HaTorah on Friday nights provided the perfect setting for an awesome Kabbolas Shabbos and Shabbos meal", says Camp Director Moishe Plotkin. Camper Micha Boden of Long Island, NY really said it all, "Thank you so much for making this camp. This is totally not what I expected. I thought I was going to some ordinary camp; I never dreamed that Judaism could be so much fun."
Don't let your teenager sing the summer blues. Plans for a second fabulous summer at Torah Teen Resort are well underway. This summer's expanded program for boys ages 14 - 17 runs from Tuesday, June 29 (15 Tammuz) to Tuesday, July 27 (14 Av). For Registration, contact us at: 824 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213, or call (718-735-0200) or fax (718-735-4455).