By Adam Grobman
June is here, and for the first time since 2019, Jewish Harrisburg’s summer home is back!
Green Hills Swim Club opened earlier this month to JCC Summer Campers, lap swimmers, nature lovers, and community members after being closed during the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
“It’s good to get back and have a sense of what was before,” says Felix Thau, an avid lap swimmer. “It’s good to have a place that I can call home.”
Felix was one of the first members to return to the Swim Club and enjoy the fruits of an intensive pre-club season that included staff and vendors re-grading the entrance, handling significant tree maintenance, addressing mechanics of the pool and pump house (compounded by the long layover), painting and deep cleaning many of the property’s structures, and more.
“It takes a lot of work to be able to get the property up and running so you can have a Summer Camp and have it available to members of the JCC to use recreationally,” says Bruce Weber, Director of Finance and Operations of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.
The property includes a creek, nature trail, picnic pavilions, gaga (Israeli dodgeball) court, basketball courts, learning cabins, a full-sized pool, and a baby pool (closed for this season).
Bruce, along with Federation/JCC staff members George Rittner, Jack Mader, Terri Travers, MarkJoseph Kasian, and Lori Rubin spent a significant amount of time preparing for the opening since the beginning of March, in hopes that members will come and enjoy many days of sunshine alongside the community.
“I’m really excited,” says MarkJoseph, JCC Aquatics Director who has spent more than a decade of summers working at Green Hills. “It gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy the water, swim, and be together.”
Lori Rubin, JCC Summer Camp Director, said that being back at Green Hills this summer gives the camp “more flexibility in our programming,” with new features including Maplewoodshop (a woodworking course) and Leadership Development. “We are so excited to be at Green Hills,” she says. “The outdoor space looks great and we hope that people use Green Hills for more than just Camp – they should come after camp and on the weekends, too.”
Some community members, like Lillian Rappaport, are looking forward to their first visit back since before the pandemic. Lillian has been visiting Green Hills since her childhood.
“We joined when I was going into fourth grade,” she says. “My mother would drop us off and we’d be there for eight hours a day.”
She says that the laid-back, poolside environment is a great space to do two of her favorite things in life: swimming and reading.
“Green Hills is just wonderful,” she says. “It’s like this treasure in the community. What a great setting for the JCC Summer Camp – you couldn’t ask for any better.”
She says her first visit will probably be spur-of-the-moment, when the weather and mood strike her.
“I’m hoping to go up one day, when it’s sweltering hot,” she says. “I’ll put myself in the car at four o’clock, do some swimming, and relax – it won’t take long for me to get up there.”
Green Hills Swim Club is currently operating on a reservation system to ensure safety of all members and guests. Visit www.jewishharrisburg.org/visit-green-hills for current hours and to reserve your visit.
Green Hills is open to members of the JCC. Guests, visiting with a member, are charged a fee of $7/day. For more information on Summer Membership, visit www.jewishharrisburg.org/green-hills.