As we have entered a second part of the school year, summer (even with the all the added weeks of snow days) is around the corner – and that means summer camps. Last year, we have sent our not-quite-15 year old to a residential high school summer enrichment program at Brandeis University. And despite all the worries of the Jewish mom, I could not keep this program from my readers any longer, especially, with March 11 application deadline quickly approaching. The program (like all such programs) is not cheap, but it offers generous scholarships and a special Global Teen Fellowship opportunity for teens from Russian speaking families from around the world. (More on application process here http://www.brandeis.edu/highschool/about/faq.html) The 4-week residential program provides science and business academic study choices (via “Genesis” track) or arts and theater options (via “Bima” track); both tracks have intense community building/Jewish learning component.
The overall learning approach is experimental/hands-on, and as students engage in academic and cultural pursuits in close partnership with educators, they make life-long friendships with other teens from all over the country and abroad. Last summer, there were teens from 11 other countries. All Jewish religion branches are represented; you don’t have to be Jewish to apply, but you should certainly be interested in participating in Jewish culture and religion, both learning and practices.
Speaks Den: “I grew closer to my Jewish values, as well as got a real taste of college life. The classes you take early in the morning, the cafeteria food, and the dorms all very college like. I made friendships that will last the rest of my life. You broaden your cultural surroundings, living in an international community. The teachers are very knowledgeable and most have real life experience and aren’t “just by the book” teachers. You learn a lot from your course, and the schedules were never TOO strict. It was accommodating for all denominations of Judaism. Go to this camp if you want a life changing summer experience.”
Last summer in the Program, Den was enrolled in Business track, where they learned all about “Doing good by doing good” in the startup boot camp (Den told me not to “tell more” as it may “ruin the surprise”). He spent his mornings on working on business ideas and afternoons and weekends were devoted to Jewish education component- teaching expeditions, Shabbat co-planning, support groups, and other “connection” activities. And connected he has – as we can hardly go anywhere in the US these days without having his Brandeis friends nearby. (a whole bunch of them met for a New Year’s reunion in New York and are now planning a “Russian” reunion in a few years). BIMA and Genesis are selective programs and students must show interest in the programs in their applications; all applicants need to write essays and provide references; some Genesis programs require school transcripts as well, and BIMA candidates need art samples. Global Teen Fellowship for teens from Russian-speaking families is competitive (Brandeis-Genesis Institute (BGI) Global Teen Fellowship). Application must be completed by the March 11th deadline in order to be considered for the Fellowship (indicate that Russian is one of the languages spoken at home on the application to “automatically” apply for the Fellowship).