TSTI notes success with its online Camp@Home for young children

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — On June 15, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel launched TSTI Camp@Home, a virtual summer camp experience for children in pre-K through second grade. According to Camp Director Bela Barbosa, the program, which meets weekday mornings via Zoom, has been embraced with enthusiasm from campers, parents and counselors.

TSTI Camp@Home provides opportunities for youngsters ages 3 through 7 to make new friends and connections as they sing, dance and learn alongside their peers. The camp offers music, mindfulness, art, science and nature, and other engaging activities that encourage campers to use their imaginations and broaden their horizons from the safety of their homes.

“We know how important the summer camp experience is for children — socially, emotionally and educationally. Given the uncertainties presented by the pandemic, it was important to us to offer something virtual at a time when so many parents are not comfortable sending their children to traditional camp,” Barbosa said. “The response has been great, and all our first-week campers are continuing on, with new campers joining as well.” 

The program is slated to run through mid-August. TSTI Camp@Home is offered in flexible one-week modules, Monday through Friday, with regularly scheduled programming and special activities from 9 to 11:15 a.m. Children may enroll in “Sing-Along with Shawn” only, which starts each day for 30 minutes, or the full morning. After the music module, campers are guided automatically to two age-appropriate bunk activities. These include “Lego Masters,” American sign language, “Animal Action,” “Wonder Wednesdays,” dance party, “All About,” and snack and story time. The morning ends with a mindfulness exercise. Special afternoon pop-up events for older children and families are being scheduled and will be open to the wider community.

Barbosa noted that, so far, Lego Masters and Wonder Wednesday are very popular.

“With Lego Masters, counselors give campers prompts about something to build with the blocks,” she said. “Wonder Wednesday challenges them to wonder what they can make with suggested materials. The first week, they used sticks and boxes and came up with so many great creations — a spaceship, car, umbrella, magic wand. They’re so excited to show each other what they’ve made.”

Details and registration for TSTI Camp@Home are available online at https://bit.ly/TSTIcamp. For more information, email tsticamp@gmail.com.