May 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

HASC Campers Enjoy ‘Experience Day’ Extravaganza

Each year, approximately 400 young men and women of the Jewish community dedicate their summer to assisting the campers of Camp HASC. HASC serves children and adults who have intellectual and physical disabilities. For many staff members, it is their first time interacting with people with such disabilities, so it can be a very difficult summer both physically and emotionally. But with that challenge comes the opportunity to give back to the community by providing an unfathomable amount of chesed towards both the campers and the campers’ families, resulting in both the campers’ and the counselors’ great personal growth.

Beyond the opportunity for giving and receiving chesed, HASC isn’t dubbed the “Happiest Place on Earth” for nothing. Each day at HASC has a different theme: Superhero Day, Disney Day, Harry Potter Day, Candyland Day, Luau Day, and Wild West Day to name a few. (The full schedule can be found on HASC’s Facebook page posted on June 1.) On these special days, the entire camp, including the lunchroom, bunks, streets and lampposts, gets a makeover based on the day’s theme. These days conclude with vibrant evening activities such as carnivals, parties, games, challenges, and so much more, all based on the theme. Additionally, practically every other day, a concert is held at Camp HASC featuring dozens of world-famous Jewish singers.

I had the privilege of working as a counselor at HASC for two summers. Before each summer, my co-counselor Jared Benjamin and I would study the HASC schedule, then go to Party City to purchase costumes relating to each day’s theme, wearing them throughout the day in camp. Our bunk was in the Chavivim Division, which was primarily for children and young adults between the ages of 9 and 19. Despite their hardships, my summers at HASC were my favorite summers and definitely the most rewarding weeks of my life. I made many lifelong friends with many of the other staff members and campers, met incredible people such as the rebbeim at camp and Jewish celebrities who visited, and had a great time being my best self while letting loose and playing with my bunk.

This summer on July 24, you will have the opportunity to join in on Camp Hasc’s fun at the 10th anniversary of HASC Experience Day! Once every season, Camp HASC invites the counselors’ parents and the public to visit the camp. All guests have the extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of the magic of HASC. Experience Day includes one giant carnival, music-fest, and food extravaganza, combined into one phenomenal day. This year, the featured singers are Joey Newcomb, Mendy Worch and Mordechai Shapiro (and potentially more!).

During my first summer in 2017, my parents and grandmother visited me on HASC Experience Day. I had the opportunity to introduce them to each of my co-counselors and campers. Throughout the day, my bunkmates and I rotated taking care of our campers to give the visitors quality time to connect with each camper. HASC also offered fun activities for families, including carnival rides set up near the front of the camp. My favorites were the aerial carousel ride and bungee jumping. HASC also offers delicious treats such as pizza, slushy and ice cream free of charge. Chickies meals were also available for purchase.

Each year, the highlight of HASC Experience Day is the mega-concert. Unlike most concerts at HASC, which are held on a small stage, for Experience Day, HASC rents a professional stage with intense multi-colored stage lighting and a booming sound system that can be heard across the camp. The featured singer in the summer of 2017 was Meilech Kohn, who is most famous for his hit song “Ve’ahavta,” which I had the privilege of hearing live.

For my second summer in 2018, HASC Experience Day happened to coincide with my birthday on July 29. That day, I decided to wear a birthday cake hat to add to the fun. My parents once again came to visit, this time bringing my first cousin Tzvi, who was visiting family in America from his home in Israel. That summer, HASC indulged even more, bringing in Meilech Kohn again, but this time the camp also brought Simcha Leiner and Mordechai Shapiro for the mega-concert. As a surprise to me, after much dancing, my camper Adam climbed up on stage, stealing the microphone from Leiner and announced that it was my birthday. In front of everyone, Adam began singing “Happy Birthday.” I was very touched by the gesture and will remember his act as the best birthday gift ever!

A few days after Experience Day in 2017, I returned to my home in Bergenfield for my day off. When I walked through the door, instead of receiving my usual questioning from my mom, my dad appeared. To my surprise, he was teary-eyed and gave me a big hug. When I asked what was wrong, he told me that he had been so moved by the amount of chesed and happiness at Camp HASC that he hadn’t stopped crying since Experience Day. While at camp on a day-to-day basis, it was often hard for me to see the impact that I was making. Seeing how much my dad was moved really made me feel appreciated and solidified for me that spending my summers at HASC was well worth it.

Overall: Camp HASC is one of the most special places in the world, meriting a 10 out of 10 rating. Experience Day is the climax of the summer, and if you have never visited HASC before, it is a must-see destination. It is a great family activity for those who enjoy rides, good food, an amazing concert and the chance to observe the happy faces of all campers and counselors. My sister Hannah is working as a counselor at HASC this summer, and I hope to visit her on Experience Day with my family.

I guess if a picture is worth a thousand words, then being there in person must be worth a thousand pictures. Make sure to mark your calendar for Sunday, July 24 for this spectacular event!

Admission: It’s FREE for the public

Hours: July 24 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Unique Feature: A day full of chesed, great music, rides, delicious foods and pure happiness.

Website: ​www.camphasc.org

Address: 361 Parksville Rd, Parksville, NY 12768


Zachary Greenberg is a health and benefits consultant analyst at Mercer and the TABC track coach. In 2018, Zachary completed the Aish HaTorah Kiruv Training Seminar in Yerushalayim. Recently, Zachary watched the Pixar movie “Lightyear” in theaters. If you have any recommendations of fun places for Zachary to cover, please email him at [email protected].

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