College, camp fairs set for end of the month


Parents seeking information about summer camps, or about college options will be in luck at the end of this month.

On Sunday, Jan. 27, families will have the opportunity to attend two separate fairs — one with information about summer camps for preschool through teenage children, and the other for high school students looking for information about colleges. Both fairs are free and open to the public.

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The Central Agency for Jewish Education, Tips on Trips and Camps, and the St. Louis Jewish Camp Directors Council have organized the Second Annual Jewish Summer Opportunities Fair, which takes place from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Jewish Community Center’s Carlyn H. Wohl Building in Creve Coeur.

After that fair ends, parents can make the short trek over to Temple Israel in Creve Coeur for the annual Choices: Jewish College Fair, organized by CAJE. The college fair begins at 2 p.m., and continues until 4 p.m.

Jenny Wolkowitz, St. Louis representative of the camp consulting company Tips on Trips and Camps, one of the organizational sponsors of the Jewish Summer Opportunities Fair, said the fair will be a “one-stop shop” for parents seeking information about day camps and overnight camps in St. Louis, the Midwest, and throughout the country.

Forty camps will be represented at the fair, Wolkowitz said, which started last year as a way of ensuring that Jewish families and Jewish camps have an opportunity to take part in an annual camp fair.

In previous years, a summer opportunities fair was held in St. Louis, always on the last Saturday of January, which left out Sabbath-observant Jewish families or directors of Jewish camps, she said.

Jewish Summer Opportunities Fair organizers selected the Sunday after that Saturday fair, so camp directors visiting from out of town could simply stay the weekend and attend both fairs.

Wolkowitz said the camps represented at the fair will be from all over the country, and will offer opportunities for a wide variety of ages.

“It’s the whole gamut, from preschool kids, all the way up through college kids,” she said.

Day camps will include options for preschool children through eighth grade, and overnight camps geared largely for third-graders through high school. However, older kids will have options as well.

“There are Israel teen tours, U.S. domestic teen tour, there are internships, community service programs, so for high school age kids there is a lot as well. And then for those who are even older, a lot of the camps are coming, looking for staff. So if a kid is looking for a job at either a day camp or an overnight camp, they should come prepared with a resume, and be prepared to schmooze with the directors and possibly land themselves a job for the summer,” said Wolkowitz, who is also a Jewish Light board member.

Parents will find different observance levels among the camps as well, she said.

“From camps that have an optional Friday night service, and really no other Jewish component… all the way to Kosher and Shabbat-observant camps, and even some camps for Modern Orthodox families. So, it’s really going to run the entire ideological spectrum. There will also be some camps that really have not much to do with Judaism other than a lot of Jewish kids going to them,” Wolkowitz said.

There will also be camps represented that both accommodate, and are designed for children with special needs, she said.

Rabbi Ari Vernon, director of Jewish teen programs for CAJE, said the Choices: Jewish College Fair, will include representatives from more than 60 colleges from around the country.

Vernon said CAJE invites a broad spectrum of colleges to the annual college fair.

“There’s a pretty good representation of your top-tier schools from around the country, and then also a very nice representation of the regional schools, public and private,” he said.

The focus, Vernon said, is not on schools with Judaic Studies programs — although many do, or at least offer some Jewish studies courses or Hebrew classes.

“It’s not geared toward getting kids to go to schools to learn Jewish. These are schools that have Jewish populations and where Jewish teens from St. Louis tend to go to school,” Vernon said.

“Our message to the kids is, ‘We think you’re probably thinking about going to these schools anyway, so come and meet with representatives from those campuses,” he said.

For more information on the Choices: Jewish College Fair, contact Karen Rader at CAJE at [email protected] or 314-442-3756.

For more information on the Jewish Summer Opportunities Fair, contact Jenny Wolkowitz at 314-432-8642 or [email protected].