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A one-of-a-kind summer opportunity for Thoreau School students at the JCC

Posted at 10:30 PM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 23:30:36-04

FREDONIA, WI — From a 40 foot climbing tower, to a Ninja Warrior Course to archery, swimming, gardening, even cooking-- kids who don't normally get to enjoy summer camp got the experience of the summer at the Jewish Community Center's Rainbow Day Camp.

This year 450 kids took part in the "Road to Rainbow" program in Fredonia. Lenny Kass, Rainbow Day camp director said.

"We here at JCC and rainbow camp want to make Southeast Wisconsin a healthier place. We want to be Positively Milwaukee," Lenny Kass, Rainbow Day Camp director, said.

At JCC Rainbow Day Camp all kids are welcome.

"It's important that all kids can feel like they belong," Kass said.

The unbridled joy of 7-year-old Kymora Patterson of Eastbrook Academy in Milwaukee was contagious.

"I love the swimming because I never get to swim much at home. I meet new people and have so many activities to do." Patterson said.

Grownups also felt the glee.

"I have more fun than the kids because I get to see us making a difference in Southeast, Wisconsin." Kass said.

Not just any student can partake in this special program. Students from Thoreau School in Milwaukee must earn a spot through good grades and discipline.

"It's all they do every year, 'When's JCC! When's JCC!'" Thorea camp direction, Karen Rosio, said.

She got a little emotional recalling a student who did not make the cut his first year.

"He worked throughout the entire year and the next summer he got to go. It's very touching cause you just don;t see that anywhere else," tears flowed as Rosio said that.

At JCC Rainbow Day Camp kids discover new friends and another world.

"We had a little girl a couple of years ago standing there with something in her hands. It was a frog. A live frog. She had never seen a live frog," Kass said.

Many kids even reach milestones. Patterson remembers, "I did not not know how to flip on the beam on gymnastics. I actually started practicing more, and I'm getting really better." She adds, "What we learned in soccer, always trust people. We were like kicking the ball, and we always had good sportsmanship. It was nice. We were actually coming together like sisters!"

And of course kids can't keep such idyllic times a secret.

"I walk in the front door the first thing my mom asks me is like, 'What did you do at JCC?' I was like, 'I did lots of fun stuff. I did some swimming, hockey, soccer and then we had to eat lunch. The most best thing was praying to God."' She said.