Camp Jaycee at La Jolla's Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center is celebrating its 65th summer of adventures, friends and memories. One Carmel Valley native has been a part of more than 20 of those 65 years.
Marcie Blumberg, 29, attended Camp Jaycee as a camper in 1984, became a camp counselor at age 14, and this summer will send her son, Joey, to the camp.
"I came back because I wanted him to have the same childhood experience I had," Blumberg said.
A longtime devotion to Camp Jaycee seems to be a trend — camp director Sandy Siperstein Rafner has been with the camp for 29 years, having started as a counselor when she was a college student.
"I think that campers get so much out of it that they want to give back," said Siperstein Rafner of the lifetimers, such as Blumberg. "They have such great memories that they come back."
The 2010 camp season will run June 14-Aug. 27 for children ages 9 months old, like Joey will be, to seniors in high school. Camps are offered in special interests such as swimming, basketball, art, cooking, cheerleading, theater, dance, horseback riding and more. Most have once-a-week field trips to places like the beach, museums or the aquarium. One theater camp will have campers go to Los Angeles to see a play; travel camps include overnights in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
Children can ride the bus to camp from pick-up locations at Torrey Pines High School and at the Vons in Del Mar off Mango Drive.
Siperstein Rafner said most kids get a kick just out of riding the bus, since many don't have the opportunity to ride one to school.
Blumberg, formerly Marcie Delsen, remembers camp as a time of singing, doing arts and crafts, learning how to swim, and field trips to San Francisco, a real dude ranch and white water rafting.
"When I was young I remember thinking the counselors were so old and so cool," Blumberg said. "We idolized the counselors, wanted to dress like them and be like them."
When she became a counselor, she loved teaching the campers all the same songs and dances she learned as a kid and now being the person everyone looked up to.
Camp Jaycee was a real family affair; both of her brothers were campers and then counselors, and her mother, Sherry Delson, still serves on the camp committee.
"It was our second home and all of the staff was like family to us," Blumberg said of camp. Friends she made as a little girl were bridesmaids in her wedding years later.
Blumberg even spent summers off from college working as a counselor or at the camp's after-care program.
She was last involved with the camp in 2004 — her family had just moved back to San Diego from Atlanta.
"Not everywhere has a JCC," said Blumberg. "After living in different places I realize how special it is."
Campers do not have to be Jewish to attend, Camp Jaycee and the JCC are open to the entire community. For more information, visit ljfcc.org/campjaycee.