Zimmer Museum adds second day camp in Westwood


A camp at the Zimmer Children’s Museum that has exposed more than 400 children each summer to art, music, science, nature and magic — not to mention Jewish values — is being expanded to a second location this year. 

Starting in June, Camp Zimmer, which has hosted children ages 3-8 for the last four years at its home on Wilshire Boulevard, will begin offering additional programming at Sinai Akiba Academy. The camp at the Westwood-based school will include classroom learning, time on the playground and weekly Shabbat services for families every Friday. 

While the Shabbat aspect is new this year (and available only at the Sinai Akiba location), Belinda Vong, associate director of play and learning at the Zimmer, said the camp doesn’t focus solely on Jewish things, it also emphasizes more universal values.

“We’ll highlight social responsibility, caring for people, animals and the environment, and helping the community,” Vong said. “We weave in those concepts through our activities.”

Kids learning about nature and the importance of caring for the planet.

The variety of classes that will be taught include “Rock, Pop & Roll,” which is about music history. Campers will hear about modern art and music, decorate their own guitars and make instruments. In “Lights, Camera … Create!” participants will learn about different genres of film and take on the various roles of production to make short animations. The kids will delve into optical illusions and perspective art and see a performance from a guest magician for the “iMAGICnation” program. 

At the Zimmer, which is housed at The Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center, campers also will have the chance for interactive playtime on the two levels of the museum. They will excavate fossils and pinpoint and classify early animals and plants during “The Dino Dig,” and hear about Los Angeles transit, waste, water and food in “Smart City: My L.A.” 

Camp at the museum runs from June 20 through Sept. 2; the cost is $325 a week for museum members and $350 a week for nonmembers. At Sinai Akiba, the camp goes from June 20 to Aug. 19, with a cost of $350 a week for members and $365 a week for nonmembers. (There is an early bird discount before April 15 for both locations.)

Families who want their children to attend but can’t afford it can apply for assistance. According to Vong, the camp awards scholarships to 10 percent of families, and half or full tuition is covered. 

The Zimmer also has a spring program in two sessions held from April 18-22 and April 25-28. They include arts and crafts, music and playtime. The cost is $325 per week for museum members and $350 per week for nonmembers.

Vong said what makes the camp itself unique is that it allows children younger than 4 to participate, goes until September, when Jewish day school is officially in session, and has a deeper message behind its teachings. 

“We focus on having fun but also on the importance of building community and working together. Those are the life skills that are extremely important as the campers grow older,” she said.

One parent, Valerie Weiss, has sent her 7- and 4-year-old daughters to the camp. She said the camp is “stimulating and innovative, and the kids come home learning amazing things about science, music and art. There are real high concepts that they learn in an experiential way.”

One year, her daughters made “artbots,” which were art-centric robots they built themselves. The creations, which could draw, were composed of motors and magic markers. 

The effect, she said, has been very positive for her children.

 “They connect ideas that they wouldn’t necessarily learn about at such a young age,” Weiss said. “The camp is fun and positive, and it really follows the philosophy my own family has about education.”