The Experiential Learning Center

posted by on Sep 1, 2015

It’s with GREAT excitement that we share this news- CYJ has officially broken ground on a new facility called the ELC or Experiential Learning Center.

The ELC will teach sustainable living through demonstration and embody the Jewish value of tikun olam (repairing the world).  Using the latest environmentally-friendly materials and techniques, the building will be designed to showcase these assets through interactive exhibits for some 5,000 retreat participants and 750 summer campers and staff each year.

Interactive exhibits will include rainwater harvesting, alternate energy sources and conservation, a wild flower green roof, and sustainable living.  The exhibits will enable self-exploration for individuals and groups (similar to a museum) and educational programs will be available for visitors and campers to develop a deeper understanding of each topic, including video and other technological enhancements.  In line with CYJ’s focus on Israel, each exhibit will reflect strides taken in Israel to protect nature and lessen our impact on the environment.

The ELC will provide programming space for multiple groups of campers or year-round visitors to use simultaneously.  Indoor space will include a large activity room will also accommodate 200 people, a canteen (yes, the canteen is back at CYJ after 25 years!), two multipurpose rooms for up to 50 people, and a lounge-style room for up to 75 people.  The large room will also have an ark built into the wall so it can be used for t’fillot (services).  Through carefully construction, existing oak trees will be preserved to create naturally-shaded areas for outdoor gathering spaces as well.  We envision the ELC to one of the highlights of visiting CYJ, with a reputation for fun programs and cutting-edge exhibits that relate directly to our core Jewish values and showcase Israeli initiatives.

This building comes on the heels of other recent efforts to forge a stronger connection between CYJ’s visitors and campers with nature.  In 2011, the CYJ Garden was established, and is now used year-round by local school groups, and is a popular summer activity for campers.  Vegetables and herbs harvested throughout the summer are used for Shabbat meals and to make tea.  Last year, we also retro-fitted the fluorescent bulbs throughout the Bar-Yadin Beit-Ha’am (main building) with energy-conserving LCD bulbs and fixtures.

CYJ’s Experiential Learning Center is a ground-breaking initiative that will change the way future construction is considered at CYJ and other summer camps and Jewish institution will be inspired by our innovation.  We have eliminated the traditional silos of “construction” and “education” and are bringing together a diverse group to create a building that, by design, is educational.

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