Photo courtesy Robert Kern

By Robert L. Kern

ORT, the largest Jewish educational network in the world, is introducing an innovative new pilot project to bring its acclaimed “YOU-niversity” Centers of Excellence concept to children attending Jewish camps in the United States this summer. ORT will introduce STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) “hands-on” workshops, enabling American campers to learn new concepts through fun and engaging activities. Funding for this program was provided by a special grant from ORT America, ORT’s fundraising arm in the United States.

This pilot project will be executed by a project manager and six instructors from ORT’s “YOU-niversity program in Israel.

From July 8 to July 16, courses will be run at the New Jersey Y Camps, the largest Jewish camp complex in the world, which serves more than 7,400 participants of all ages throughout the year. More than 5,500 children participate in its summer camping programs. The ORT program will run at Camp Nah-Jee-Wah for elementary school-age campers and Cedar Lake Camp for middle school-age campers. Both are located in Milford, PA.

The 92 Y Day Camp, housed at the Henry Kaufman Campgrounds in Pearl River, NY, will host the ORT YOU-niversity program from July 17-18. The ORT educators will then visit the Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, NY, which serves campers in grades K-8 from Westchester, Riverdale, Manhattan, Rockland, Bergen and Essex counties, from July 19-20. This camp is part of the international network of Ramah camps, operated by the National Ramah Commission, Inc.

Five course themes will be offered to campers in 45 minute periods: Beginners/Advanced Photography; Mobile Apps Development; Robotics; Computer-Aided Design (CAD); and 3D Printing. This will enable the largest number of youngsters to participate and give them a wide variety of STEAM-based subjects from which to choose. It also will provide camp faculty and staff a small sampling of the themes ORT covers.

All campers will complete a project in order to be able to have something to carry with them from the course in which they have participated. The project will highlight a unique concept that ORT is bringing from Israel.

The ORT YOU-niversity program, which was created in 2012, provides enriching, cutting-edge applied courses to more than 5,000 students, ages 5-17, each year in partnership with the Israeli government and local municipalities. ORT is currently running 12 YOU-niversity Centers of Excellence throughout Israel’s socio-economic periphery. The Centers provide after-school activities, focused on STEAM subjects, exposing students to enjoyable, hands-on, practical courses that develop their interest in the science and technology fields. In 2018-2019, five more Centers will open, doubling the number of course participants. Courses are designed based on the values and needs of each community.

ORT is the largest global educational network driven by Jewish values. Founded in 1880, ORT can be found in 37 countries on five continents and helps 300,000 students around the world in more than 235 schools and colleges.

Robert L. Kern is the owner and director of RL Kern Marketing & Consulting, specializing in Israel and Jewish community advocacy. Previously, he was Director of Marketing & Communications at American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center and American Friends of Magen David Adom, National Communications Director of American ORT and he also held marketing, communications and public relations positions at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and UJA.

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