2018-07-04 / Home

JCC campers return all smiles following bus accident

Rabbis who provided extra TLC at the JCC Camps at Medford today are, from left, Rabbi Ben David of Adath Emanu-El, Rabbi Gidon Isaacs of Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Nathan Weiner of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton and Rabbi Andy Green of Congregation Beth El. Rabbis who provided extra TLC at the JCC Camps at Medford today are, from left, Rabbi Ben David of Adath Emanu-El, Rabbi Gidon Isaacs of Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Nathan Weiner of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton and Rabbi Andy Green of Congregation Beth El. By JAYNE JACOVA FELD

Voice staff

Campers and counselors returned to the JCC Camps at Medford today with smiling faces and eager to jumpstart their activities following yesterday’s accident involving five buses.

Kids and campers whose buses were impacted were personally greeted by Camp Director Beth Segal, Assistant Director Sara Sideman and four local rabbis at the start of the day.

“Knowing what many of the campers had gone through last night, we thought that a familiar face might help elevate their spirits,” said Rabbi Andy Green. “We offered ourselves with a wave and a smile, a ‘boker tov’ and a high-five, and for some a hug and words of comfort, support, strength, and love.”

The accident occurred shortly after camp let out on Monday afternoon on Tuckerton Road in Medford Lakes near Lenape Trail, according to Medford police. Five school buses, all transporting children and staff home from camp for the day, were involved. A total of 21 children, one staff member and two bus drivers were transported to local hospitals, where they were treated for minor injuries and released that night.

 “We are so thankful that everyone was home last night in their own beds,” Segal and Sideman noted in the statement released to parents.

Staff sprang into action to support campers immediately following the incident, according to the statement. While some personal stayed behind at the camp, others were on the buses keeping children calm and happy until they were reunited with their families at camp. Still others accompanied the injured to area hospitals, they noted.

By all accounts, today was a regular camp day with some additional TLC from the rabbis, who hung around to greet campers and check in around camp. Besides Green, they included Rabbi Nathan Weiner of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton, Rabbi Gidon Isaacs of Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill and Rabbi Ben David of Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel.

JCC officials met with Medford’s chief of police and the bus company today as well. Addionally, JCC Executive Director Les Cohen talked with the supervisor from the Department of Motor Vehicles who inspected the buses. The five bus drivers who were involved in the incident will not be driving their regular bus routes pending the outcome of the police investigation, according to the statement.

Rabbi David said it was affirming to observe the upbeat mood around camp.

“Spending time at drop off on the day after the accident re-affirmed two things for me,” he said. “The first is that the leadership at JCC Camps is extraordinary. Everyone was upbeat, organized, and ready to respond to every camper’s need. Secondly, I also saw yet again how resilient kids are. They were smiling, happy and ready for a day of camp. They were bouncing back in a powerful way.”

Weiner added: “It was joyful to see the children’s smiling faces as they got off the buses. As rabbis, we smiled and waved at them at the bus yard and then I walked around with Rabbi Isaacs to be seen.

“I spoke with some counselors about how they were feeling,” added Weiner,  who worked summers for several years at the camp while in rabbinical school. “But with the kids, it was all smiles.”

Isaacs drove into camp today with his nine-year-old son Natan, a Shalom camper who was on one of the buses involved in the incident. 

“Natan was excited to go back and see his friends,” noted Isaacs. “When Rabbi Nathan and I were walking around, we came across his group. The normalcy of the day and general great atmosphere that he is used to every day was apparent. It was good to be part of that effort today.”

 


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