JCC wades into the shallow end
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JCC wades into the shallow end

New pool to enhance summer camp

Marla Cohen is a freelance writer. She lives in Rockland County.

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An illustration gives an idea of the location and appearance of the JCC’s new outdoor pool, which will open in time for camp this summer.

JCC Rockland’s Camp J-Land will make a big splash with its youngest campers this summer. It’s adding a pool.

While it is not meant for adult lap swim, the pool – 20 by 50 feet long – will allow Camp J-Land’s 2- through 5-year-old campers to have both recreational and instructional swim. In addition, the outdoor pool will be available for some adult water aerobic classes, family activities for members, and birthday parties. The JCC’s sports camp also can use it for recreational swimming, according to Joshua Krakoff, JCC Rockland’s chief operating officer. The addition will make the camp more competitive in the nursery camp market, as well as help the JCC retain its J-Land campers for more summers than they currently do, he said.

“Certainly I think this makes us better placed among nursery camps and among the other private camps that start taking kids at age 4,” he said.

The pool was necessary for the JCC’s financial health, he added; the organization has to expand its revenue streams beyond fitness.

“JCCs across the United states depend on summer camp as a primary source of revenue to fund all the work they do,” Krakoff said. “We couldn’t be competitive without a pool. It will help us not only build our summer camp but also will help support the entire JCC operation.”

The pool will be located behind the Jewish Family Service wing of the building, on the JCC’s Lewis Family playground. It will cost $150,000 and construction will begin in the middle of March, weather permitting, according to William Ebner, facilities director for the Jewish Community Campus. During the excavation the playground will be closed, but as soon as the area can be fenced and secured, the play areas again will be open for use, he said. The entire process should take about six weeks to two months.

“We’re hoping to be done in early May, but obviously we have to be complete by the end of June to be ready for camp,” Ebner said. Construction will include the pool, a patio, a showering and changing area, and possibly bathrooms, he added.

Camp J-Land, an onsite camp for children ranging from 1 year and 10 months to 5 years old, runs from June 24 to August 23. The camp offers three- and five-day programs and costs from $1,000 to $2,185.

Last year the camp attracted 45 campers, and Krakoff anticipates that the pool will help the JCC attract nearly double that number in 2013. “We’re hoping to have 75 this summer,” he said. “I think it’s feasible.”

In addition, the pool will have family hours for members of the JCC’s Russin Fitness & Wellness Center that will continue after camp until early evening, when it will have to close because the area is not lighted.

The JCC has long wanted to add a pool. And while this pool is not an indoor lap pool that can accommodate a full range of pool activities, it allows the JCC to add an attractive asset to keep itself competitive, according to the chair of the campus building committee, Steve Rosenzweig.

The project was budgeted for in the fourth, or “Maccabi Games,” phase of the campus capital campaign, which ran over the last two years, culminating with the JCC Maccabi Games in August. It was important to the organization’s board of directors that the campus be seen as following through on a project proposed at the outset of that campaign, Rosenzweig said.

“The pool will add more credibility to our children’s camp program,” he said. “When I speak to people, they say they’d love to send their kids to the camp, it’s a good program, but there isn’t a pool.”

And now there will be.

Lisa Sherman of New City sent her 7-year-old daughter, Alexa, to Camp J-Land when she was younger because the loved the camp’s warm, nurturing feel. Sherman took her daughter out when she was 3, however, because she wanted her to have swim instruction.

Now, she won’t have to do that for her two-year-old son, Drew.

“We have been hoping for this for years,” Sherman said.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “And now at least the JCC can compete with other camps. We’re very excited.”

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