By COLlive reporter
Camp L’man Achai in Upstate New York is gearing up for another fun-filled summer. With a record number of campers attending and newly renovated grounds, this year’s camp is set to be an unforgettable one.
Decades ago, the camp was just a division of Gan Yisrael Parksville for children from Russian families. Today, it has developed into an operation catering to boys from secular homes from all over the country and around the world. Commenting on where the camp is today and the upcoming summer, Senior Head Counselor Levi Gajer said: “Boruch Hashem, L’man Achai has experienced rapid growth over the past few years and this summer we expect to have over 160 kids between the regular camp and the teen program.” The camp’s appeal has reached as far as California where over 20 campers will be arriving from this summer.
Set in the mountains of Andes, New York in the Western Catskills, the camp is surrounded by pristine nature and beautiful scenery for the kids to enjoy and explore. During the winter months when the camp was not in session, the directors worked tirelessly to improve the grounds in preparation for the summer. Major updates were made to the campus including renovating the bunkhouses, revamping the hockey and basketball courts, and modernizing various other facilities.
As a camp for secular kids, L’man Achai has a unique responsibility to impart to their campers the attitude that Yiddishkeit can be both enjoyable and meaningful. To this end, they invest heavily in both areas; ensuring that the kids are treated to exhilarating trips and dynamic activities while also utilizing the learning and davening times to the max. During the hiring process, special attention is made to hiring staff with chinuch experience including some older, married learning teachers for the teens who are at an especially impactful age.
This type of focused approach has seen tremendous success over the years. The children return home empowered by what they learned during the summer and share the enthusiasm with their families and friends. In many cases, their experiences have inspired them to grow in their Yiddishkeit as they got older, with some even attending Yeshivas and going on to live frum lives. Gajer shared one such story.
“A number of years ago, a boy came to camp from California. His background was very secular and he grew up in a home where his father was not even Jewish. The local shliach suggested to his parents that he attend L’man Achai and the experience lit a fire in him. He kept in contact with his learning teacher after the summer and continued to grow in his Yiddishkeit. Eventually, with the support and encouragement of the shliach, he went off to yeshiva and this summer he will coming to camp as a learning teacher from Oholei Torah shiur daled!”
The Rebbe often pointed out the unique opportunity that a summer camp presents where children are surrounded at all times by Torah and Jewish values. At L’man Achai, this ideal is front and center of all of their activities and something each staff member looks to capitalize on during the short few weeks of the summer. As the summer approaches and all the careful planning is set in motion, L’man Achai is set for a summer of a lifetime!
There are still a few spots available for the coming summer. To sign up or learn more visit www.camplmanachai.com.