EKC-produced camp video gets national attention on YouTube

EKC-produced camp video gets national attention on YouTube

OK, so half the world posts videos on YouTube — at least, half the world under the age of 30.
So it probably isn’t so surprising that Emma Kaufmann Camp (EKC) recently posted one showcasing life there during the summer.
What is surprising is the level of participation in the project — 425 campers and 130 staff, virtually everyone in the camp at the time it was produced — and the fact that the video, together with its trailer, went viral with more than 11,000 views as of Tuesday.
“We just thought it would be a great way to get the word out about Jewish camping, and Emma Kaufmann in particular,” EKC Director Sam Bloom said.
The video, titled “Are You Ready?” is a line-dancing, hip-hop version of, appropriately enough, John Denver’s “Country Road” (EKC is located along Cheat Lake near Morgantown, W.Va.). The video, which was recorded over a 24 nonconsecutive hours in late July, had a secret release to campers, their families, alumni and staff Aug. 5 following the trailer release, Aug. 3.
Working with photographer/videographer Josh Franzos and several Jewish Community Center staff in Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Bloom described a meticulous exercise in choreography, camera angles and positioning of extras that went into making the video.
“Josh [Franzos] did the actual filming, telling us where to stand what to do,” said Bloom, whose own role in the video was the DJ to the lip-dubbing sequences. “He was also involved in the preliminary meetings to determine what would be the best places for the scenes, where the scenes would be, where we would be standing. He had it down to a science.”
It’s not the first time EKC has produced a video. There are others on YouTube that deal with more specific subjects such as Shabbat services and the Judaic aspect of camp life.
“This was a lot different than any [other] type of video we’ve done,” Bloom said, in that it totally encompassed every aspect of EKC life.
But JCC spokeswoman Cathy Samuels said the video would have an impact far beyond the borders of the camp.
“We thought it would be a tremendous vehicle for reaching out to alumni and keep the current campers excited … and it would be a wonderful recruiting tool,” Samuels said. “This would be a wonderful story to show our funders.
“We felt there were so many things we could accomplish as well as have a whole lot of fun,” she added.
Camps using YouTube to promote themselves isn’t a new idea.
“A number of camps across the country had begun to experiment with this medium,” Samuels said, “so about six weeks before we began to look at a few of these projects. We were taken with the idea and thought we could take it to a different level.”
“I think our video told a story,” Bloom said. “It was more than just camping, it was Judaism and family, and togetherness and fun — all that kind of stuff.”
More than 800 campers came to EKC this summer, a marked increase over the 786 who attended last year.
It’s not a record, Bloom said, “but over the past several years we are in a better place. From the recession two years ago we are in a better place now than we were back then when decisions had to be made.”
As to whether JCC will make another such video next summer?
“Yes we will definitely do this again,” Samuels said. “It has been received just so amazingly by young and old that we will definitely attack it again.”

(Lee Chottiner can be reached at leec@thejewishchronicle.net.)

To watch the video produced by Josh Franzos, visit http://youtube.com/JCCpittsburgh.

For more information about JCC camps or the Agency, visit http://www.jccpgh.org.

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