Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs: 2020 Vision Through A First Person View
Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs’ always accurate view on what gets kids excited, engaged, and asking for more just got even sharper.
I thought I knew all there was to know about what Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs had to offer. Intellectual expansion. Applicable real-life experience. Maturity, growth, and ventures into the unexpected. The discovery and development of passions that launch kids along any chosen trajectory into the future. Add academics, art, fun, new skills, and long-lasting friendships. This was JKCP as I knew it, one of the most renowned, trusted, and well-attended camps in our region, a legendary fixture on the local college campuses where it makes its summer homes.
If anything can change a perspective, it’s putting one’s child in front of the viewfinder. Having come to know the Krinsky presence through proximity to its camp locations, then more deeply through research for a previous Main Line Parent story, I inspected JKCP through a new lens last summer. For one August week, my fifteen-year-old attended as a day camper. Now I was not just a writer on a story. I was a discerning mother with a critical eye.
I had the highest expectations for my son’s experience. Finn had attended day camps and summer programs since he was small. Some were impressive, delivering on every promise and offer. Some failed in this category. Here, I trusted that my kid was in for an unforgettable experience.
JKCP did not disappoint.
From the first day, Finn, an introvert who tends to take the temperature of a crowd or a room slowly before finding his place in it, settled in easily. In eSports, a natural choice of morning class for a veteran gamer, he found a guide and teacher in his instructor, who illustrated, not simply how to manipulate a game for points, but how to apply gaming skills to the wider world. Finn’s afternoon class was DJing. New to the art of sampling and mixing, but always a lover of music, gadgets, technology, and anything creative, Finn quickly mastered the equipment. He was allowed to explore and encouraged to collaborate, to find and create unique sound that moved him. He connected with his classmates as they worked together in a group. They asked questions about each other’s lives and experiences. All week long, he came home happy. At camp he was excelling. He was excited and at ease.
“The counselors talk to us like humans here,” he said, surprised by the respectful level of instructor-to-camper interactions. “Not like we’re little kids.”
As Finn explored game maps and the unlimited universe of sampling sound, I was also exploring, on an intensive guided tour of the camp’s inner workings with Keri Branch, JKCP’s Marketing Manager. While Keri described the camp’s most popular business, medical, and marketing classes, we peeked into classrooms, talked to campers and counselors, and watched their projects in action. In cooking class, the kitchen was high-energy and bustling as groups of student chefs added final garnishes to plates of fresh-made pasta. In studio art, original pastel drawings and paintings were in progress, with completed works displayed on the walls. A science classroom took its chemistry outdoors to mix materials that would launch their handmade bottle-rockets sky-high. In each class, campers presented their work with pleasure and the ease of self-assurance, claiming ownership, exhibiting the kind of confidence that can only come from knowledge. The kids were learning, and loving it.
This camper-driven thrill and excitement for learning is just what has steered the direction JKCP is taking for 2020. With new and revamped programming, especially in the 14 -18 year-old age group, the cutting-edge Krinsky reputation remains well-earned. How does this organization stay so far ahead of the curve? With comprehensive research, with supportive college and university partners, and with wide-open ears tuned towards the community it serves: kids.
“We’ve really been able to give them what they want, to help them explore their passions,” said Keri.
What campers have asked for, and will dive into this summer, is a gamut of expanded and upgraded enrichment classes, including Digital Marketing, which in its new incarnation will teach the language of analytics, social media, and SEO. Also new on the Villanova University campus is Moneyball, which brings together a passion for math, sports, and analytics, showing their effects on professional sports organizations and the athletes playing for them. Runway Fashion is also getting an update, with a focus on sewing skills, textiles, and garment construction. New to the medical class course selection for 2020 is Pre-Med Prep, an ideal preparatory choice for more intense courses like Penn-Med and Pediatric Medicine at CHOP. Pre-Med Prep is a hands-on program that allows students to examine in detail the complexities of medical science, including labs, dissections, and instruction on the various fields of medicine.
“It’s all about broadening your perspective,” said Keri. “We’re really excited about what these new classes have to offer our students …it’s real, leading to their futures”.
As Keri and I wrapped up our tour, we stopped into the DJ classroom, where Finn, his classmates, and his instructor, Dorian, a professional DJ by trade, were finishing out the day.
“You have to hear this,” Dorian told me, signaling to Finn to cue up his creation. As Finn manipulated the sound board and the mix started to play, an intentional intertwining of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Sad by rapper XXXTentacion, everyone in the room concentrated on the music.
“Wait, listen to this part,” said one camper. And I did.
As the song crescendoed, Dorian described the way Finn had stretched and meshed the two pieces together to create one seamless work. And it was beautiful. The song ended. The week at JKCP ended, with all expectations met, and exceeded.
In all the time I spent absorbing the details of JKCP’s carefully crafted programming, that last camp moment is the most unforgettable for me. To see that pride in Finn’s creation, not just on his face, but on the faces of his peers. That was the unforgettable moment for Finn. These kids, previously strangers, now friends, truly appreciated his artistry. They were proud of him for the work he’d done, openly supporting him as he shared it. Watching Finn accept that praise with quiet confidence showed how much he’d shifted in the short span of a week. And that was everything I needed to know as a JKCP parent.
From that new parental perspective, next to that unforgettable moment is the last and most important element in the final judgement of a critical mother: Finn left better than when he arrived. That is my view. And that is the JKCP experience.
Photography by Karen Barbuscia. Photography also provided by JKCP.