Josh and Risa Henkel, standing under the Mid-Island Y JCC Day Camps new home base

Four Questions for Josh Henkel

Josh Henkel is director of the Mid-Island Y JCC Day Camps, which provide 900 kids with fun-filled summers in a safe, inclusive, nurturing environment where they can make friends, be themselves, and connect to their Jewish identity. Most Mid-Island camps operate on the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, property UJA has owned since the 1950s. UJA is significantly investing in transforming the campgrounds, with the goal of providing enriching camp experiences for our community’s children and paving the way for the next generation of Jewish leaders. We talked with Josh about how the renovations are already improving the camp experience.

 

(Q) A new home base was constructed, replacing the old shelter. How will the new home base impact camp?
(A) During past summers, rainy days would be really hard to deal with. We just didn’t have the program space needed. The new home base creates space for programs like dance instruction, and the new roof structure makes it very for comfortable for kids to sit out and stay dry, even if it’s raining. We’re excited to dedicate the new home base on August 9 in honor of Amy and Scott Jaffee, so we can officially thank them for their generosity in making this all possible.

(Q) How do the renovations help create a more inclusive camp?
(A) Over 50 kids at camp have disabilities. We have inclusion programs, self-contained programs, and vocational programs. Thanks to the renovations, we now have a fully accessible, non-gendered restroom that provides a more private changing area. It’s really a step in right direction for the kind of camp we want to be.

(Q) What other improvements are on the horizon?
(A) We’re looking forward to the installation of even more home bases, which will allow camp to grow and offer more STEM, jewelry making, and other activities that require indoor space. And with swim instruction being so important to camp, when we get the renovated aquatics complex, it will be a game-changer.

(Q) We’ve heard camp runs in your family. Just a rumor?
(A) No, it’s absolutely true. I met my wife Risa at a camp orientation back in 2001, and now we run this camp together. Our kids go here. My father-in-law has worked here. Camp has shaped our family — and our Jewish life.

Photo: