Published in Galveston Daily News

First Jewish day camp in Galveston County will open this summer

First Jewish day camp in Galveston County will open this summer - part 2

Chabad of the Bay Area will open first Jewish day camp in Galveston County

  • By RICK COUSINS Correspondent

The concept of a special summer experience for Jewish youth may trace back to a summer camp back in the New York City of 1893, but Rabbi Yitzchok Schmukler, director of the Chabad of the Bay Area, tells Our Faith that he is opening what will be the first Jewish day camp in our Bay Area now.

It will run for two weeks from Monday, July 11, through Friday, July 22, and will be hosted by Chabad under the name Camp Gan Israel (CGI). The CGI tradition dates back to 1956 and welcomes youth from all Jewish traditions at sites all over the United States.

The kids here have renamed it “Camp Gan Izzy.” The Hebrew word Gan simply means garden. This year, it will host children aged 3 through 12.

“These camps enjoy a well-earned reputation as trendsetters with innovative and fun programming, where Jewish children experience first-hand the richness of their Jewish heritage in a fun and nurturing environment,” Schmukler said. “We’ll offer swimming, sports, field trips. Judaic themes will be relayed through activities, crafts, music and games.”

The congregation ran a pilot program last summer where Tonya Schmukler served as its head counselor.

“It was a real pleasure, she said. “The kids absolutely loved every day of it. They are all eager to come back for this new year’s season on our spacious new grounds and word is getting around to friends as well. If you have a child for whom this camp is appropriate, I encourage you to check it out — they will thank you for it.”

It’s probably beyond argument that virtually all religious traditions are being challenged by rapid changes in American culture. Retaining religious teaching among the young has been one of the greatest challenges to all the great faiths for the last several decades.

The rabbi’s wife, Malky Schmukler, who will serve as CGI’s camp director, knows this well.

“At a time when the world is a big melting pot, we believe it is important for parents to make sure that their children are provided a strong foundation of ethics and guiding principles in life,” she said. “Knowing who you are, understanding your family’s personal heritage, values and cultural and spiritual traditions that shape who they are, helps provide grounding for our children in what can be a very confusing world. The Jewish tradition carries with it a very meaningful heritage and as parents, it is important for us to make sure it is carried on to our kids, the next generation. Learning about it in a fun way and a joyful environment makes that whole experience something very positive that children will always remember and cherish.”

For details, including early bird registration, please visit or 281-724-1554.

Rick Cousins can be reached at [email protected].