American Jewish University is unique in that it serves as a resource for individuals of all ages in the exploration of their Jewish identity. Two such programs for children and young adults, Alonim and BCI (Brandeis Collegiate Institute), take place on the beautiful Brandeis campus, located in the foothills of the Santa Susanna Mountains.
Camp Alonim is a dynamic Jewish experience brought to life through Jewish culture, social action, and nature. For its nearly 60 summers at our Brandeis-Bardin Campus outside Simi Valley, Camp Alonim has instilled in its campers a passionate love for Jewish culture, a sense of responsibility to the community at large, and the confidence that comes from the unique experience of Jewish camping. Parents see the impact that an Alonim summer has on their children - as one parent raved after last summer, "my son came home happy, confident, and full of enthusiasm. It was clear that this was an unforgettable experience...."
Judaism is in the fabric of everything that happens at Camp Alonim. Every activity is designed to be a gateway towards exploring some aspect of Judaism as well as a vehicle for trying new things, building skills, boosting confidence and self-esteem, and developing independence. Alonim "creates an environment where children can enjoy and be proud of their Judaism," observed a satisfied parent. Another was similarly impressed: "My kids loved the Jewish experience and are still singing the songs they learned at Alonim."
Among activities typically offered are arts and crafts, drama, Israeli folk dancing, music, swimming, radio broadcasting, soccer, archery, mountain biking, an adventure course, organic gardening, creative writing, cooking, hiking, yoga, and horseback riding. Alonim is a community camp and is not affiliated with a particular movement or denomination. Children from all backgrounds and levels of Jewish observance are welcome.
Camp Alonim's 2012 season runs from June 19 to August 12. Sessions of various lengths are available for kids entering grades 2-11. Alonim also has a day camp for kids entering Kindergarten through 6th grade. Tours will be offered at Alonim's Open House on May 20, between 1:00PM - 3:00PM. Financial aid is available. You can enroll online at alonim.com. Here are additional quotes by parents about their children's experience at Camp Alonim.
The Marilyn and Sigi Ziering Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) is an intensive experience in Jewish culture and community for young adults from around the world, ages 18 to 26. Nathaniel Jhirad ('10) from Mumbai, India, explains, "BCI exposed me to young adults of different Jewish backgrounds. It gave me a chance to understand the reasons why each of them observed Judaism in the manner they did..."
In the context of a recreational summer camp, BCI provides participants with a 26-day exploration of self. For Dmitriy Tokarev ('08) from Ukraine, "BCI was a place where I discovered strong leadership qualities inside of myself. Today, that wonderful discovery plays an important role in my career and personal growth."
This is a unique opportunity for young adults to immerse themselves in the diversity of Jewish culture, to envision their own Jewish life, and connect to community through artistic expression, dynamic trans-denominational learning, spiritual reflection, and outdoor exploration. Sarah Rosenthal ('11) tells us, "I walked away from BCI with an incredible new sense of who I am and how to keep asking questions."
BCI's rich program offers campers the opportunity to dance, sculpt, write, and act under the guidance of a gifted professional artist-in-residence. They also plant and harvest in BCI's organic garden, preserve trees, hike new trails, and camp out under the stars. In addition to all this, they have the chance to participate in discussions with leading thinkers in the Jewish world about Jewish texts, philosophy, history, culture, and issues of identity, ethics, and community. Marina Kozlova ('09) declares, "At BCI, I learned to think wider and believe that anything is possible if you really want it."
One thing is for sure, no one leaves BCI unchanged. Read more quotes by BCI alumni.