Camp Menorah, a day camp located on beautiful Lake Chebacco in Essex, MA, has provided nearly a century of camping and culture to Boston-area boys and girls. It was founded by the 1916 donation of land to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) by the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation as a summer refuge for urban kids.
Until the 1950s, Camp Menorah, then called Camp Chebacco, was a boys’ overnight camp run by the Hecht House in Dorchester. The camp then became a day camp for boys and girls from the Chelsea and Revere JCCs. With changing demographics, in the 1980s, enrollment was expanded to include children from 30 cities and towns north of Boston. At that time, CJP transferred management of the camp to the JCC of Greater Boston.
Camp Menorah is more than just our friendly, dedicated and experienced staff. And it’s more than our beautiful lakefront property. It’s the memories of our campers, long after the summer is over, that makes Camp Menorah special.
Camp Menorah is a family where the Camp Menorah spirit runs deep. Children will make friendships that last a lifetime and experience new and exciting activities that will help them gain independence and boost their self esteem. As director Judi Simmons says, “We are an 8 week camp that lasts 52 weeks a year.”
Every day, campers and staff form and deepen the bonds between them. Our staff works year round to plan for the eight precious weeks that will define summer for hundreds of kids. Most of our key staff members are mature and experienced adults who even have their own children attending camp. It’s a testament to the camp that so many campers become counselors and return summer after summer.
In 2002, Camp Menorah was slated to be sold by its former operator. Parents, staff, campers, alumni, and the community at large rallied to save the camp. In a few short weeks, the community managed to preserve the property, and arranged for the camp to be run by a new non-profit corporation named Eight Lights, Inc.
Since then, Camp Menorah has added new and exciting programs and activities such as a high and low ropes course, and dedicated fishing, boating, and drama camps that expand upon the current offerings of the camp.