In Kimama Half Moon’s communal-like atmosphere, campers will learn how to build relationships and thrive in nature — an experience Camp director Abby Levine says is more necessary than ever.
Designed with Israeli flavor and values, Camp Kimama Half Moon is set to welcome its first year of campers in the U.S. this summer. Just opened, Kimama Half Moon includes campers ages 6-17 who visit from both the U.S. and countries worldwide.
Camp director Abby Levine, who has worked for numerous Jewish organizations throughout her 25-year career, says the 100-year-old site that Kimama Half Moon sits on is nestled deep in the Berkshires, offering a scenic retreat, including a lake, in Massachusetts.
“It’s beautiful,” says Levine, who joined Camp Kimama in February and is based in Charleston, S.C. “The camp is about 40 acres and it’s just a really nice, calming, clean and good atmosphere that we’re in.”
Kimama Half Moon includes four sessions and 25 activities, such as photography, water sports, arts and crafts, a skate park, archery and traditional sports, like soccer and volleyball. It offers both day camp and overnight options for campers.
An Open-Air Experience
Levine says the site was in good condition and came with great history. To prepare for its first summer, Kimama Half Moon staffers have been working around the clock on renovations, painting and resurfacing sports courts.
“We’ve freshened it up to give it that Kimama flavor,” Levine says, “that we wanted to have.”
With Hebrew-speaking counselors, Kimama Half Moon will offer a similar experience to its international summer camps in Israel, which launched in 2004 with the goal of making connections between Jewish children around the world. Now, Kimama camps can be found in numerous countries, including Spain, Italy and, most recently, the U.S.
The biggest challenge, Levine says, has been working around the timing. “We bought a camp around the first of the year, and we planned to open for the summer in June,” she says.
“It was our goal and our challenge, but one that we achieved to start our camp.”
At Kimama Half Moon, Levine explains the day-to-day experience leans heavily on giving children a chance to be in open-air nature without any screens. It will also incorporate an expanded Jewish experience that Levine says is through “an Israeli lens.”
“We’re looking at everything through Israeli culture,” she describes. “Campers will be exposed to music, art, different sports and food. We’re even bringing in an Israeli chef.”
Building Relationships after a Pandemic
In Kimama Half Moon’s communal-like atmosphere, campers will learn how to build relationships and thrive in nature — an experience Levine says is more necessary than ever.
“For the past two years [during the pandemic], some kids have gone to school, some kids haven’t gone to school, and some kids have done a little bit of both,” she explains.
“This is really the first time in two years that kids have a consistent opportunity to be with each other in an outdoor environment, so Kimama is taking that seriously because it’s our responsibility.”
Bringing kids back to the basics, Kimama Half Moon will give campers an opportunity to learn about themselves and each other in a direct way, rather than through electronic screens. It’s an experience Levine says will be entirely bilingual, which differs from Israel-based camps that operate under Hebrew language.
In terms of philosophy, Levine says the U.S. camp upholds the same values.
“That is the same no matter what Kimama camp [kids attend],” she explains. “We have campers coming from all over the world and we have staff from all over the world.”
Developing Camp Traditions
This summer, Kimama Half Moon expects a day camp with 150 campers. The overnight camp will see just under 200 kids.
“It’s going to be on the smaller size this year, which is good because we’re looking forward to really getting to know the kids,” Levine says. “Everyone in the program this year is helping to develop our first-year traditions and what Kimama Half Moon is going to be all about.”
The reception to the camp’s opening, Levine explains, has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People are very excited because Kimama has a different philosophy than other Jewish camps in the U.S.,” she says.
“Our vision for Half Moon is that we, too, in 100 years, will be celebrating our 100-year anniversary, that it will continue to become an international destination.”
For more information, visit https://kimamahalfmoon.org.