Skip to main content

Screen-Free Camp Inspired Activities

As your family continues to adjust to this new normal, the JCC Summer Camps would like to continue to be a place for your family to find community connection, and ruach all year round. Each week members of our camp leadership team will be posting resources and camp-inspired activities to keep your child(ren) active and engaged from your home. We can’t wait to see you this summer for even more memories, friendship, and much needed time outdoors!

Weekly Notes

Each week hear from members of the camp leadership team!

Recipies

Bring some of your favorite camp recipes to your home!

Hands on Activities

Play, explore, and discover the great indoors with the ruach of camp!

Coloring and More

Bring the magic and creativity of camp's art studio to your home!

Recipes

Campfire Cones Recipe
Ingredients

Waffle cones
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Graham cracker pieces

 

Optional Toppings
Candy-coated chocolate or caramel, peanut butter cups, bananas, strawberries, coconut, brown sugar, butterscotch chips, nuts, anything your imagination! 

 

Instructions
Layer toppings on waffle cones and wrap in foil. Toss in the campfire coals for 5-7 minutes or until everything is nice and melted. The cones can also be baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Assemble ahead of time for a fun treat.

 

S'mores Cheesecake Ice Cream Sundae

Celebrate Shavuot with this camp-inspired ice cream sundae! Guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser or any time you're looking for an extra sweet, campy treat!

To view the recipe, click here.

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Challah

Love banana bread and challah? Here's a recipe that deliciously combines them both from a former camp parent! 

Chocolate-covered Matzo 

1. With help from a grown-up, melt semisweet chocolate over a double boiler.

2. Wait for the chocolate to cool down, so you don't burn yourself, and spread it over a piece of matzo.

3. Sprinkle and decorate your matzo with your favorite toppings, which may include fresh fruit, dried fruit, marshmallows, sprinkles, etc.

4. Put your matzo in the refrigerator or freezer to harden.

Optional: To take this one step further, use 2 pieces of your chocolate-covered matzo to make an ice cream sandwich by adding ice cream in the middle. 

 

Recipe provided by Hilary, Day Camp @ the JCC's Cooking Specialist 

 

Kitchen Sink Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup of ANYTHING you want to mix in! (chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, cookies, chips, pretzels, candies, etc.)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds. Butter should be completely melted but shouldn't be hot. 

3. In a large bowl, mix butter with the sugars until well combined.

4. Stir in vanilla and egg until incorporated.

5. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. 

6. Mix dough until just combined. Dough should be soft and a little sticky but not overly sticky. 

7. Stir in mix-ins!

8. Scoop out 1.5 tablespoons of dough and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

9. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cookies are set. They will be puffy and still look a little underbaked in the middle. 

10. Enjoy!

 

Dynamite Challah Recipe

Bake challah in your home and bring the magic and tastes of summer to your kitchen! Try this dynamite recipe.

 

Stovetop S'more Recipe

Craving summer a little bit s'more than ever? Us too! Make summer magic right in your home with this delicious s'mores recipe.

 

Hands-on Activities

Settoga Gymnastics @ Home

Create a balance beam in your home! This is a more easily set-up indoor game than you might think. Using painter’s tape (go gentle on flooring), tape down a line of any length and challenge your child to only walk on the line all the way to the end. 

 

Camp in a Box: Build Your Own Camp Community

Using materials at home and our attached designed camp cutouts, create your own camp diorama! Imagine your favorite scene at camp. The pool? The challenge course? The gymnasium? The possibilities are endless.

 

Dance and Sing

Need to get your wiggles out? We all learned a ton of new dances at Camp Settoga this past summer. Check out this link for camp tutorials so you can relive and or learn the dances for the first time in your home. Can you create a new dance for one of our camp cheers, like Dynamite or Boker Tov?

 

Also, listen to your favorite camp tunes on our camp Spotify playlist!

 

The Human Knot Game

Need to get up and moving? Try this game at home with your family! The game takes approximately 15 minutes and teaches lessons in patience and communication as well as problem-solving skills.

 

Play Camp Charades

Charades is the perfect game to play to get everyone moving and laughing in no time, especially with fun camp-themed prompts. Have your children draw or write out prompts that make them think of camp, cut them out, and stick them all in a jar or a bag. Each player will pick one and attempt to act out the word on the card with no noise or lip movement while the other players try to guess the word. 

 

Camp Settoga's Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt

We need your help to celebrate Camp Settoga's 5th Birthday! Enjoy this special scavenger hunt at home:


To celebrate our 5th birthday at Settoga:

Find 5 magnets

Find 5 pens or markers

Find 5 LEGOS

Find 5 books, including your favorite to read at bedtime

 

To prepare for all things summer fun:

Find 1 pair of sunglasses

Find 2 bathing suits

Find 1 piece of lanyard

 

To spread some camp ruach:

Find 1 red or orange piece of fruit

Find 1 red or orange crayon

Find 1 red or orange t-shirt

Find 1 red or orange pair of socks


Settoga Mini Golf at Home

Find a small ball, a cup or round container, and something you could use as a golf club—a toy bat, some paper towel rolls connected together—maybe even borrow a real golf club from a grown-up in your house. Then, use any items you can find to make a mini golf course, kind of like an obstacle course: the trickier the better. See who in your family can complete each hole in the least amount of shots!

" target="_blank">attached designed camp cutouts, create your own camp diorama! Imagine your favorite scene at camp. The pool? The challenge course? The gymnasium? The possibilities are endless.

Dance and Sing

Need to get your wiggles out? We all learned a ton of new dances at Camp Settoga this past summer. Check out this link for camp tutorials so you can relive and or learn the dances for the first time in your home. Can you create a new dance for one of our camp cheers, like Dynamite or Boker Tov?

 

Also, listen to your favorite camp tunes on our camp Spotify playlist!

 

The Human Knot Game

Need to get up and moving? Try this game at home with your family! The game takes approximately 15 minutes and teaches lessons in patience and communication as well as problem-solving skills.

 

Play Camp Charades

Charades is the perfect game to play to get everyone moving and laughing in no time, especially with fun camp-themed prompts. Have your children draw or write out prompts that make them think of camp, cut them out, and stick them all in a jar or a bag. Each player will pick one and attempt to act out the word on the card with no noise or lip movement while the other players try to guess the word. 

 

Camp Settoga's Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt

We need your help to celebrate Camp Settoga's 5th Birthday! Enjoy this special scavenger hunt at home:


To celebrate our 5th birthday at Settoga:

Find 5 magnets

Find 5 pens or markers

Find 5 LEGOS

Find 5 books, including your favorite to read at bedtime

 

To prepare for all things summer fun:

Find 1 pair of sunglasses

Find 2 bathing suits

Find 1 piece of lanyard

 

To spread some camp ruach:

Find 1 red or orange piece of fruit

Find 1 red or orange crayon

Find 1 red or orange t-shirt

Find 1 red or orange pair of socks


Settoga Mini Golf at Home

Find a small ball, a cup or round container, and something you could use as a golf club—a toy bat, some paper towel rolls connected together—maybe even borrow a real golf club from a grown-up in your house. Then, use any items you can find to make a mini golf course, kind of like an obstacle course: the trickier the better. See who in your family can complete each hole in the least amount of shots!

Coloring and More

Painting with Marshmallows
Grab some large marshmallows, washable paint (orange, yellow, and red if you want to create a campfire!), and candy or lollipop sticks. Construct "paint brushes" out of your marshmallows and sticks and make a painted campfire creation! Just be sure not to eat your campfire! 


Color Me Camp

Materials:

  • Paper towels
  • Coffee filters (cheap ones work great)
  • Red, orange, and yellow washable markers
  • Cups of water and watercolor brushes
  • Sponge (for cleanup)

 

Spread a paper towel on your workspace and lay a coffee filter on top of the paper towel. Try to create a campfire by drawing fire designs on the coffee filter with markers. After you finish drawing, you can paint over your design with water by using any brushes you have...wait and see what happens.

Color Me Camp

Bring out your child's inner artist with our JCC Summer Camps coloring pages to print out and color at home!

To view the coloring pages, click here.


Woodworking @ Home

An important aspect of creativity is the willingness to look at everyday materials and figure out new and different ways to use them. A new activity we've been planning for this summer at Settoga is woodworking. While we might not have access to a full shop right now, we can still practice some basic woodworking skills using cardboard and paper. 

Check out these activities from our new woodworking partner: 

Cardboard Geodesic Dome

 Paper Geodesic Sphere  

Scribble Art: Make a Typography Card for Healthcare Workers 

Materials: 5" x 7" cardstock (or any thicker piece of paper), a pencil, a black permanent marker, collage materials (magazines, colored paper, feather, tissue paper, buttons--be creative!), scissors, and a glue stick or liquid glue.

Project Steps:

1. Keep it simple. Choose one or two words to write in block letters (or bubble letters) on your card first in pencil, then traced in black marker. This could be "thank you" or "hero" or "bravery" Draw them big, filling up almost ALL the space on the card. For families with younger kids, parents can write this word for them in pencil. Then they can trace the pencil lines in marker so the letters have a clear outline.

2. Fill the empty letters with your collage materials. Remember to cut and trim your paper so it doesn't cover the black outline of the letter and to glue slowly so each piece is well attached. Do this until all the white space is filled up with tons of colors and textures.

3. Send your card!

 

Make Rainbow Crayons

Here's a fun way to recycle your old, broken crayons! Unwrap the crayons, place them in muffin tins, and bake for about 10 minutes at 275 F.

 

Create a Family Banner

Make a special family banner with materials you find around your home, like crayons, markers, recycled newspapers--the sky’s the limit! Don’t forget to hang your banner in your home!

 

Send a Shabbat-o-gram!

Write a short note to a friend or family member to thank them for something, tell them about a great part of your week, or share something you might be excited about for the week ahead!

 

Build Your Own Day Camp @ the JCC 

What is your favorite place at camp?  The pool? The Zip Line? The Gaga Pits? The gymnasium for our Day Camp @ the JCC campers? Using any recycled materials you can find at home, create your own version of your favorite place at camp. Use your imagination and send photos of your masterpieces so we can create a virtual summer camp!

MAY 28

Dear JCC Summer Camp Families,

 

As I sat down to write this note, the first thing I instinctively did was look at the date on the top right of my computer. How on EARTH could the month of May already almost be over?! With each passing day, some of which really feel like a week, it's crazy to think that we've been settled into this reality for two and a half months. Memorial Day, for me, typically marks the beginning of the season where I can finally take out my white pants again; the pools reopen; I make it my mission to visit every ice cream shop in the city; and I can spend my weekends with friends and family packed into Sheep Meadow like sardines. As spring winds down and the weather gets warmer, I'm starting to accept that the summer I've been longing for since the moment the last one ended might look just a little bit different this year.

 

My family has a tradition of going around the Shabbat table and having each person share one nice thing that happened during our respective weeks. Today I find it even more necessary to count my blessings and find ALL of the nice things that happened during my week. I'm trying my best to find the silver linings as summer is quickly approaching—my husband and I both get to spend this extended period of time at home with our 5-month-old son; we can still go outside and enjoy the warm weather; we are fortunate to have a roof over our heads and dinner on the table each night; and I've mastered baking delicious challah every Friday. All of these things, among many others, make it possible to get through these long days with a smile on my face.

 

As we unwind and prepare for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, leading right into Shabbat, I challenge you to think of the nice things that happened during your week (and in case you're debating, you should definitely have that extra slice of cheesecake or piece of challah!).

 

Shabbat shalom,

Julia Weiss
Site Director, Day Camp @ the JCC
P.S. Share your photos or videos with us by tagging Camp Settoga + JCC Day Camps on Facebook and camp.settoga_jcc.day camps on Instagram!  

MAY 22

Dear Camp Families,

 It is remarkable to me that a month has passed since my last email to you. The passage of time lately has been extremely confusing. Each day feels like it goes on forever, yet as we get to Shabbat each week I can hardly believe seven days have passed. It has been about two months of this new normal, and it is clear that everyone is getting a bit restless. We are all wondering "When will this be over?"; "When can I see my family?"; "When can I have a single moment to myself?" And yet, we are reminded constantly that these questions may not be answered as soon as we would like. I do not consider myself a patient person by nature. Patience is a virtue I have had to teach myself over the years. Perhaps it is being the youngest child with two (much) older brothers and feeling like an only child for many years of my life. However, this quarantine experience has pushed me to consider what it really means to be patient, and why patience is a value. 


 There is a viral game going around that parents and caregivers are playing with young children, specifically toddlers. Essentially, they put three candies or sweets in front of the child, and explain to them that they have to be patient and wait until the parent/caregiver gets back to eat them. Then the parent/caregiver leaves the room for a minute or so and comes back to find the child has either eaten the treats or waited patiently as told. I'm sure you can imagine how successful this one is! I spend all day teaching my 20-month-old son how to practice patience. Before quarantine, it was about waiting for his bottle to be ready, or gathering all of his things before we could go outside. Now, it is about when he will be able to go into the playground again (we pass two nearly 10 times a day on our walks outside), when we can see Babba and Savti again (my parents), or when he can go to JCC Harlem to drive in their toy cars again. Each time I have to say, "Soon. I really hope we can go soon. We have to be patient." It is heartbreaking, but the silver lining (of which there are many) is that he is learning to be patient. He is learning that not everything we want is available to us at that moment, and at times, we need to wait until it is. 


 So, while we wait for the fate of the world, and specifically New York City, to become clear, we will do our best to practice patience in the many small ways we can. Let's teach our children to use these moments as learning opportunities and to try new things. Below you will find a video from Settoga's Values Squad to introduce our activities for this week, including Where's Waldo and Mandalas! 

 

Best,

Nessa Geffen

Assistant Director, Camp Settoga


May 8

Dear Camp Families,

Happy Friday! Throughout the school year, people often ask me about our programming at camp and how we decide what to offer each summer. When we think about our activities and new elements to add, we ask the following questions: 
How does this connect to our values?
How can we directly and creatively emphasize a camp value at this activity?
Will our campers easily connect the activity and the camp value?
As we answer these questions, it becomes more and more clear whether the program or activity is worth adding at camp.


The camp values are truly what guide us. Over the past few weeks, you have heard a lot about gratitude, creativity, resilience, and curiosity. I want to highlight another value, and my personal favorite, community. A community is more than just a group of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time. A community is a group of people with shared goals, shared experiences, and shared hopes for the future. This is truly what we work so hard to build at camp.


Through these unprecedented times, our camp community is really what has kept me and other members of our staff going. The positive notes, great pictures, thoughtful stories, and more have reminded us about the power of camp and the great experience of being together.


I hope to see you all soon!

Best, 
Genna Singer 
Director of Camps


May 1

Dear Camp Families,


One of the values that we explore at Settoga is creativity, or yetziraut. This is definitely a value that speaks to me personally, as one of my favorite places to look for an idea is outside the proverbial box. Many people are quick to label themselves as "not creative" just because they can't draw or play music, but being creative can also be defined as accomplishing something: You’ve created something that wasn’t there before. Sure, it could be a Picasso-level painting, but, just as importantly, it could be clean laundry or a new routine that’s working for your family during these new and unchartered times. You’ve all probably “created” lots of new ideas during this time. Leftover pizza for breakfast? Sure! Can a bathroom be a conference room? Why not? Here are a few other ideas for you and your campers to use as starting points for exercising that creativity muscle.


The communities we've built at Settoga, in the building, among bunks, and across a range of ages are hands-down the biggest parts of what make our JCC family so unique and special. Although we can't be together right now, let's all remember that community isn't only where we are, it's who we are. So please be in touch, keep up the great work, keep washing those hands, and feel free to share pictures of anything you're working on at home!


Shabbat shalom,

Kerin
Head of Camper and Staff Care, Camp Settoga


April 24

 

Dear JCC Summer Camp Families, 

I hope that each of you and your families are staying safe, healthy, and sane as we continue to get settled into our new normal. While I was on a Zoom call earlier this week, the moderator of the meeting challenged each of us to think of a way that these unprecedented times have made our lives more expansive, rather than distanced. In the thick of our daily routines, it is sometimes challenging to remind ourselves of the positives in our lives, as many of us are juggling the roles of working full time, parenting, and teaching our children, despite having no background in education. 


When I look back at the past six weeks, I can't help but recognize just how much more connected I have been with family members and friends that I wouldn't necessarily have had as much "face time" with otherwise. From a Zoom seder with 50 members of my extended family (that most definitely would never all be sitting at a table together on Passover) to weekly game nights on Zoom with my friends from college to simply catching up with loved ones over FaceTime, I have experienced a sense of b'yachad (together), despite the feeling of isolation that many of us are sharing every day.


As we enter yet another socially distanced Shabbat, I encourage all of you to think of the things that make you and your families feel b'yachad. Keep a diary and write down one good thing that happens each day; have a dance party with your children in the middle of the afternoon; bake chocolate chip cookies just because; watch an entire Netflix series in 24 hours; and remember we will all get through this b'yachad

Shabbat shalom, 
Julia
Site Director, Day Camp @ the JCC

 

April 14

Dear JCC Summer Camp Families,

One thing I have been thinking about over the last couple of weeks is how rare it is that the entire world, much less all New Yorkers, shares a profound experience all at the same time. Perhaps we can use this time to deepen our ability to empathize with those around us and understand our neighbors just a little bit more as we realize that we are all in this together. This is a moment to see how deeply our individual actions affect our greater communities. I am constantly thinking of how we can bring this realization into our summer, and practice empathy in a way we may have not yet experienced until now. I am imagining a camp where the idea of Ve'Ahavta L'Reacha Kamocha or "love thy neighbor as thyself" will stand out in a completely new way. We are hyper aware in our office that if camp is able to happen, it will be a deep blessing for all involved. 


My family has been thinking about ways in which we can give back to our community. We have heard about the many organizations that we can donate money to, facilities where we can go to donate blood, and ways to connect with family and friends as much as possible. However, many of these things can be difficult. Perhaps some of us are running low or are out of money to donate; perhaps some of us aren't able to donate blood or are trying desperately not to leave our homes; and perhaps we are trying to limit screen time as much as we can under the circumstances. I wanted to send along some ideas for things we can all do from home to support our communities that also serve as fun, screen-free activities!

Best, 
Nessa 
Assistant Director, Camp Settoga

 

April 6 

Dear JCC Summer Camp Families,


I hope this note finds you as well as possible as we all figure out how to approach this temporary new normal of everyday life. While our new reality can feel understandably unnerving, stressful, and exasperating, I have been trying my best to take it as an opportunity to seek out the aspects that, when viewed through the right lens, are heartwarming and hopeful signals that our society will emerge from this experience for the better. In these trying times, it is human nature to focus on what we are lacking rather than on what we have, and I would like to challenge all of you to look for the positive moments by utilizing the extraordinarily powerful lens of gratitude, or hakarat hatov.


One of our Leadership Team's favorite concepts, which we have adopted as an integral part of Settoga culture, has been the mental shift from "have to" to "get to." Any "chore" can be viewed in two way—-as things we must endure until we can cross them off our daily lists (we have to pay bills, we have to go to work, or we have to shelter in place with our families) and as a privilege (we get to pay our bills because we have money in the bank, we get to work from home, and we get to spend an unprecedented amount of time at home with our families). Shifting our mindset can help transform these tasks into things we can be grateful for.


Last summer, I shared with you a moment that unfolded in our Lunch Pavilion; an older camper took it upon himself to help another camper and eagerly exclaimed, "Of course I helped...this is Settoga!" This camper's action indicated that she had been able to focus on the positive experience of helping another rather than of the chore with which she assisted. I am proud to be part of a community where this type of action--getting to help someone—is commonplace. Over the past weeks, I have seen countless acts like this take place across communities. I have learned of people sewing masks for strangers, people offering to shop for at-risk neighbors, and people singing to one another from their balconies. Even during such a difficult time, I am filled with gratitude that people are  choosing to do good, simply for the benefit of others.


While it is surely difficult to juggle all that is going on right now, I encourage you to try a "get to" approach. Reframing experiences through a lens of gratitude might even shape this difficult time into a memory of warmth and togetherness for you and your families in the future.

Best,

Adam

 

MARCH 27

Dear Friends, 

As we plan for the summer, we are excited to help you bring a bit of camp to your home each weekend. Our goal is to help this time at home feel different from the daily grind of work and homeschool, and also give the kids a chance to do some things on their own. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us so we can tailor this more to the needs of our community. 


At camp, we celebrate Shabbat with singing, dancing, celebration, and a special snack. It is a time to pause and reflect on the week that was, and plan and dream for the week to come. It's my hope that we can all use Shabbat and the weekend to recharge from the past week, spend a different kind of time with one another, and get excited for the week to come.


We are wishing you all the best and hope to see you all in person soon!


Shabbat Shalom, 

Genna

 

P.S. Share your photos with us by tagging Camp Settoga + JCC Summer Camps on Facebook and camp.settoga_jcc.day camps on Instagram!