Shemesh Overview

Rates and Dates

Program Policies


Shemesh Overview

Rates and Dates

Program Policies


Over 35 Years of Fun in the Sun

For children entering grades 1-7

For over 30 years, the Jewish Community of Amherst has offered a unique summer experience for children in the Pioneer Valley. 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.

Shemesh programs engage music, creative arts, gardening, sports, swimming, field trips, team challenges, Kabbalat Shabbat celebrations and more to nurture exploration of self-expression, earth stewardship, community, and identity.

We value diversity and pride ourselves on our welcoming, joyful, and inclusive atmosphere for both Jewish and non-Jewish families. We welcome entering 1st through 6th graders.

Where do Shemesh Summer Programs take place?

Shemesh has a home base at the JCA. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, children travel via PVTA to the Mill River Recreation Area for free swim time (weather permitting).  On Mondays and Wednesdays, children stay at the JCA to participate in additional camp programming, and on Fridays special Shabbat programming.


Who is Shemesh for?

Shemesh programs are for any children who are entering 1st-7th grade in the fall at the end of that summer. We pride ourselves in our welcoming, joyful and inclusive atmosphere for both Jewish and non-Jewish families.

What will I do at Shemesh?

Each week at Shemesh is filled with a variety of fun activities including arts and crafts, gardening, sports, music, outdoor exploration, science, and more.

Rates & Dates

1-week sessions: $350

(reduced from $450 by a generous gift from Harold Grinspoon Foundation)

Financial Need
It is important to Shemesh Programming and the JCA that children be able to experience Shemesh regardless of family financial need. We work hard to provide assistance to as many families as possible each summer. If your family will be applying for financial assistance for your children it is important that you complete this scholarship request form immediately and email it to JCA Executive/Education Director Keren Rhodes, at . Although we require a $50 per child deposit upon registration, if this presents a financial hardship for your family, please submit the scholarship request form and discuss your options with Keren as soon as possible.

Registration Change/Cancellation Policy:

If you need to change your dates for programming, rather than cancel, we will gladly try to accommodate your child if there is a space available. We understand that you may need to cancel altogether. Please contact to notify us of any requested changes or cancellation. If cancellation occurs more than 30 days before the first date of the program, session you will receive a refund of all money paid except a $50 deposit per student per session. If the cancellation occurs 15-30 days before the first date of the program session, a 50% refund will be issued. We understand that things may come up that would prevent your child from attending. If it is necessary to cancel fewer than 2 weeks prior to the first date of the program, no refund will be returned.

2023 Dates
This summer, Shemesh programs will take place during the four weeks of July! Monday through Friday, the program provides in-depth opportunities for students to imagine, explore, and create through hands-on projects, field trips, special guests, and group activities. All programs include swimming, outdoor games, crafts, and sports.

Week 1: July 3-7 (Including the 4th of July)
Week 2: July 10-14
Week 3: July 17-21
Week 4: July 24-28



Tuesdays and Thursdays, students have free swim at the Mill River Recreation Area. There will be 2-3 lifeguards on duty plus several counselors. Only coastguard certified flotation devices will be allowed in the pool area.  To swim in the deep end, students must pass a swim test administered by the Mill River lifeguards.


We realize that Shemesh 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.

Lunches: All students are required to bring with them a non-refrigerated bag lunch, labeled with their name. When packing your student’s lunch, please pack a vegetarian, peanut-free, and nut-free lunch. Read below for more information about our food policy.

Shemesh provides two healthy snacks a day.

Allergy Information
Shemesh has a nut-free policy. We can provide snack alternatives for students with some 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 student to bring their own snack, labeled with their name. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss what will be safest and tastiest for your student.

Kashrut Policy:
In keeping with JCA policy, all food must be dairy-pareve. Not all of our products or those brought by students have hechshers (symbols indicating that a product is kosher according to rabbinic standards through specific certifying bodies).

Drop Off/Pick Up

Student safety is of utmost importance to us and we appreciate your patience with our Drop-off/Pick-up protocol.

When dropping off and picking up your student, please accompany/meet them at the check-in/check-out area. Students should not cross the driveway by themselves. While older students may be perfectly capable of this, we ask that you walk them across the driveway to serve as a role model for the younger children how to be safe in a busy traffic area.

Drop off is at 8:45 am, Monday through Friday. If your child will not be at Shemesh due to illness or vacation, please notify the Director ( Please do not arrive before 8:45 am as the staff uses pre-session time to prepare for the day’s activities. All students must be accompanied by an adult to check-in with the designated staff member each day.

Pick up is at 3:00 pm. Monday/Wednesday/Friday pick up will be at the JCA. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, pickup will be at Mill River Recreation Area, unless you have been alerted via our parent communication app that we stayed at the JCA due to inclement weather.

Staff have duties after Shemesh each day – so, please help by respecting the pick-up time. While we understand that occasional situations may occur that result in being late for pick-up, parents/guardians who routinely pick up students late will be contacted regarding protocols. It is Shemesh’s discretion to ask participants who do not respect the protocols not to return to the program. Do not leave with your student without officially checking them out in the app.

One of our oldest traditions is Kabbalat Shabbat. On Friday afternoons from 2:30-3:00 pm, family and friends are encouraged to join us for a special time when students share their projects from the week and we come together to say blessings over grape juice and challah baked by students. Please arrive promptly at 2:30 pm on Fridays so you will not miss any of the excitement.

Children will only be allowed to leave with adults who are designated as authorized for pickups. Please make sure that you inform the Shemesh staff of any parents, grandparents, babysitters, or carpool parents who are authorized to pick up your child.


Get in Touch with Us

For all other inquiries please email us at or complete the contact form below. We’d love to hear from you. Every voice is important to us.



Jewish Community of Amherst 742 Main Street Amherst, MA 01002