Summer Camp at Atlanta Jewish Academy

Summer Camp at Atlanta Jewish Academy

This year, Atlanta Jewish Academy has two exciting camp options.

NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, center, will visit the AJA camp. He is pictured here with Kenny Williams, a former NBA player and Israel professional player and Rodney Zimmerman, a former UCLA and NBA player.
NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, center, will visit the AJA camp. He is pictured here with Kenny Williams, a former NBA player and Israel professional player and Rodney Zimmerman, a former UCLA and NBA player.

It’s a common thought many parents have as spring approaches: What will the kids do this summer? This is not a flippant question. Working parents need to stay on similar schedules, and the children need quality, engaged care during those summer hours.

This year, Atlanta Jewish Academy has two exciting options. The first is Extreme Action Basketball Camp, which offers an energetic and dynamic teaching camp for boys and girls, ages 6 to 17. This is more than just basketball. Character development, focus skills, goals setting, and follow-through are equally emphasized alongside the physical aspects of the training.

AJA Athletic Director Rodney Zimmerman is the principal behind the camp. After seven years in both the NBA and Europe, Rodney retired from the game of basketball and shifted his focus to create his company, Conditioned Minds, Inc.

When asked what does “extreme action” mean, Zimmerman said, “I developed this program 10 years ago in a Colorado camp to engage young people towards their excitement edge. We push them to their extreme point of abilities, past their comfort level and to their edge in different areas [of development].”

In the beginning of the week, participants will articulate individual starting goals for sports and life skills. At the end of the week, those goals are plugged into a rubric for the children to work on moving forward. “Basketball and sports are used as tools to teach all life lessons. The success of this camp is being able to show outcomes after the process,” Zimmerman said.

Adam Bettsack enjoys a water slide, among activities offered at Camp Kef.

Special guests during camp will include former Atlanta Hawks player Dikembe Mutombo, plus women from the WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream, offering opportunities to receive coaching and feedback from professional basketball players. When meeting with the campers, these guests will focus more on the character development and goals- setting portion of the camp’s focus, rather than throwing balls together around the court. Interaction with the campers will be personal, and these accomplished players will offer life lessons and leadership development ideas.

If basketball or anything “extreme” is not for your child or you have younger kids, AJA’s popular after school program extends into the summer as Camp Kef (Hebrew for fun), which is for boys and girls ages 3 to 10.

The four-week schedule includes: crafts, cooking and music; science, nature and outdoors; sports, play and movement; and crafts, nature, sports (mixed media week). AJA began offering the camp a year ago, as a result of parent and faculty request. When asked what separates Camp Kef from other summer day camps in the area, camp director Alexa Kessler said, “Our incredible vendors. These people are the best in their specialty.” Each week, new vendors are brought in to facilitate a high-quality program. Kessler also pointed out that the camp “has a heimish, family feel. We [depend upon] a lot of word of mouth – last year was all school students and their siblings. The goal is to grow slowly, focus on quality.” This year Camp Kef is extending its reach, trying to capture non-Jewish members of the community, as there is no Judaic content in the weekly programming. The camp has an enrollment goal of 50 children per week.

Learning about nature and the outdoors at Camp Kef are Evan and Adam Bettsack, Lian Gass, Joey Shapiro and Leora Gal.

Both Camp Kef and Extreme Action run June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, and June 29-July 3. The hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Fridays end at 2 p.m.). Optional extended morning and afternoon hours are available for an additional fee.

The cost is $240 per child per week if registered before April 1. The price goes up to $340 per week if registered after the early deadline. Faculty and staff of any Atlanta area school will receive the rate of $240 per child per week if registered before May 1. Sibling discounts are also offered.

The basketball camp will be held in AJA’s Minsk Gymnasium, a year-old facility containing a sensory room, indoor basketball court and locker rooms. This is the second summer for Extreme Action at this location. Other locations are in Gwinnett County and Colorado Springs, Colo.

Camp Kef will use space in the newly built high school building on the AJA campus. Both camps are located at 5200 Northland Drive in Sandy Springs. Participants bring their own sack lunch. Daily kosher snacks and Friday pizza are included in the pricing for both camps. A kosher canteen will be offered on Fridays, with food for purchase.

For more information and to register, visit From the athletics and events dropdown menu, click on summer camps.

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