April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Camp ShoKo Experience Offers Summer of a Lifetime

(Courtesy of Camp ShoKo) Since summer 2017, Camp ShoKo, also known as Shomerim Kollel, has been providing high school boys with the opportunity to spend a summer focused on their growth and learning without compromising on a fun and relaxing summer. Rabbi Aryeh Stechler, rosh yeshiva of Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck and rosh kollel of Camp Shoko, believes that, “The summer affords each boy the opportunity to get into their learning in an extremely meaningful way that they don’t necessarily have in yeshiva during the year.” Rabbi Zev Senter, Shoko director, explains that, “Coming to a learning program is a way for them to say, “This is what I really want to do. And if they come back from the experience saying, ‘I had the most fun time ever in a learning camp,’ it’s a life altering experience.”

The Shoko program affords campers the benefits of a learning program while also enjoying a fun-filled summer. “Learn hard. Play hard,” is the Shoko motto. The campers enjoy competitive leagues, exciting activities and a varied hobbies program. KiKi Arochas, a ShoKo camper expressed that, “Here at Shoko we have a lot of incredible opportunities to have fun. We have hobbies where I’m learning to play piano for the first time.” The hobbies program includes chess, tennis, fishing, piano, magic and basketball. Campers choose the activities that interest them. “A classic day at Camp ShoKo is getting through a sugya, really pounding down that sugya, having fun with friends, playing sports, going to sleep and wanting to wake up the next day for another great day,” explained Yisroel Samel, a ShoKo camper.

Fun and learning are not the only benefits of the ShoKo experience. Shoko takes place on the campus of Camp Nageela in South Fallsburg, New York. Nageela, the summer program of JEP, focuses on connecting public school students with their Jewish roots. Yitzy Richter, Shoko head counselor, said, “My favorite part of the ShoKo experience is the interaction between our frum campers and the public school campers who have come to learn more about their Judaism.” While the Shoko high schoolers are enjoying the benefits of being campers, they also enjoy the opportunity to serve as role models to the Nageela campers. The ShoKo campers formed meaningful relationships with the Nageela campers as they competed in leagues, enjoyed activities and learned together. Rabbi Senter conveyed that, “The bond with Camp Nageela has been nothing short of amazing. Our campers have become best friends with some of the campers here and the bond is a bond that will last for an entire lifetime.” Through joint activities, hobbies and programing, the ShoKo experience serves as a link between students of religious high schools and students who are discovering their Jewish heritage.

The benefits of Camp ShoKo are truly multi-faceted. The campers benefit from spending three and a half hours a day learning Torah, in addition to the exciting environment and fun activities. Yet, they also gain a tremendous leadership opportunity. Rabbi Stechler believes that, “While the main goal of ShoKo is for our campers to grow in their Avodas Hashem and their learning over the summer, it is beautiful to see how our campers changed the lives of the Nageela campers, who really don’t know much about their Judaism. Our campers showed the Nageela campers that learning Torah can be fun, it can be cool and it can be something that they want to do for the rest of their lives.” When a boy joins the ShoKo experience, there is no doubt that he will have the summer of a lifetime.

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