Camp Shemesh, a program of the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA), was founded in 1986. Through a framework of Jewish themes and values, we provide space for youth to explore their authentic selves while learning to be empathic and environmentally sensitive people and leaders. Camp engages music, creative arts, gardening, sports, swimming, field trips, team challenges, Kabbalat Shabbat celebrations, and more. We value exploration of self-expression, earth stewardship, community, diversity, and identity. We pride ourselves in our welcoming, joyful and inclusive atmosphere for both Jewish and non-Jewish families. We serve campers and teens entering first through sixth grade. Our camp day runs from 8:45 am to 3:30 pm, Monday thru Friday.
The Jewish Community of Amherst is a 501 (c) (3) organization. This camp must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and be licensed by the local board of health.
Where Is Camp?
Camp Shemesh is located at the Jewish Community of Amherst in Amherst, MA. The JCA . This provides us with plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces to use no matter the weather. Campers will get to engage more fully with the green spaces at the JCA including working in the garden on a daily basis, exploring the wetlands surrounding the JCA property, and taking field trips to places like Amethyst Brook. Monday through Thursday (weather permitting) campers will travel to the Mill River Recreation Area to take advantage of their green spaces, play ground, and pool. On Fridays, campers will remain at the JCA to participate in challah baking and other special Shabbat activities. We will also offer water play on Friday afternoons at the JCA, including our ever popular inflatable water slide.
What Will I Do at Camp?
Each session provides in-depth opportunities for campers to imagine, explore and create through hands-on projects. Prior to the start of camp you will get a list of Elective options for the Specials Block. These will be programs led by our senior professional JCA staff members and may include such things as Art with Shirah, Puppetry & Performing Arts with Felicia, Baking with Sam, Gardening with Marian, and so on. Campers will be asked to rank their interests and your child will be placed in one of their top two choices. All sessions include daily swimming and outdoor games at Mill River and opportunities to engage with the JCA garden and Jewish culture and ritual.
|Sample Daily Schedule|
|8:45 – 9:15||Choice Time|
|9:15 – 9:45||Morning Circle|
|9:45 – 10:00||Recess/Snack|
|10:00 – 11:45||Specials|
|12:00 – 12:30||Lunch|
|12:30 – 12:50||Clean up|
|12:50 – 1:20||Travel to Mill River (except on Fridays)|
|1:30 – 3:30||Swimming + Outdoor Games|
|3:30||Pickup at Mill River|
On Fridays campers will not go to Mill River, but will stay at JCA and participate in challah baking, water play, and Shabbat activities. Parents are encouraged to join us from 3:00 – 3:30 pm for one of our oldest camp traditions, Kabbalat Shabbat. This is a special time when campers share their projects from the week and the camp comes together to welcome Shabbat with grape juice and challah baked by campers.
What If It Rains, Will My Camper Still Go To Mill River?
No. Our staff has planned for rainy day activities at the JCA. In the event of inclement weather parents/guardians will be notified via Remind text that campers are remaining at the JCA and to pick-up from the JCA.
What Will I Eat at Camp?
All campers are required to bring a non-refrigerated bag lunch, labeled with their name. When packing your camper’s lunch, please pack a dairy/pareve lunch that is also nut-free. Read below for more information about our food policy.
Camp Shemesh provides two snacks a day including a gluten-free option. See below for other allergy accommodations.
Camp Shemesh has a nut-free policy. We can provide snack alternatives for campers with mild to moderate allergies and sensitivities. If your child has severe or multiple allergies or is a particularly picky eater, it may be more suitable for your camper to bring their own snack, labeled with their name. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this.
At Camp Shemesh we follow the JCA food policy. All food at Camp Shemesh and on Camp Shemesh field-trips must be dairy/pareve and nut-free (i.e. No: meat, shellfish, nuts. Yes: dairy, fish, fruits, veggies, etc.) Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions about this!
We realize that our families adhere to a variety of diets at home and that this form of kashrut may be different from what your child is used to. We approach this as an opportunity for students to learn about different styles of kashrut and Jewish identity.
Who Will My Counselors Be?
Camp Shemesh features a superb team of leadership staff, counselors, specialists, and counselors-in-training, with a low camper-staff ratio. Staff members are selected for their experience working with children, their leadership capabilities, their unique talents, and their enthusiasm for providing a fun and meaningful Jewish summer camp experience.
What If My Teen Is Entering Grades 7-10?
Teens entering 10th Grade are invited to apply to be a CIT.
OK, but what if my teen is entering 7th, 8th, or 9th Grade?
These years mark a crucial transformation: our teens are transitioning from being campers, to being leaders. They are looking for more out of their summer program than just being participants. They are seeking out significant ways to contribute and grow. This transition is challenging to facilitate within the Camp Shemesh community. Without some distance of both time and space between themselves and the campers, teens often have a hard time getting into the leadership frame of mind.
To effectively transition from camper to counselor requires an experience that inspires renewed motivation sourced outside of what they’ve received from Shemesh. This experience is most effectively achieved through immersion among Jewish peers and mentors, and we have put together a list of programs that we believe will provide this inspiring motivation that rising 7th, 8th, & 9th graders need in order to come back to Camp Shemesh and be effective CIT’s and counselors.
What If I want To Work At Camp?
Click to learn more about current employment opportunities at Camp Shemesh.