4th – 9th grade

#BIGIDEA Information Sessions

Meet the Directors and learn more about #BIGIDEA!

March 10  |  11:00am-1:00pm
Florence G. Heller JCC, 524 W. Melrose, Chicago (Lakeview)

March 10  |  4:00-6:00pm
Bernard Weinger JCC, 300 Revere Dr. Northbrook

Camp Activities

  • Tech

    Design • Coding • Cyber Security • Music & Creative • Robotics • 3-D Modeling

  • Sports

    Sports Play & Games • Gaga • Yoga • Court Hockey • Basketball • Baseball • Soccer • Volleyball

  • Arts & Creativity

    Arts & Crafts • Busy Builders & Construction

  • Adventure

    Climbing Wall

  • Swimming

    Free Swim

  • Jewish Culture

    Shabbat Celebrations • Israel Experience

  • Special

    Weekly Special Events

Design Your Summer

Each session campers participate in two workshops. Campers choose their top three choices after registering, and will be placed into workshops a few weeks before camp begins.

Hollywood movies are filled with 3D imagery. Now you can become a 3D artist too! Take your first steps and model objects you want to create using professional 3D modeling tools such as Blender! Add lighting, textures and materials to make your model realistic.

Take the first leap into the world of animation with the amazing FlipBoom AllStar 2.0®. Make your characters move and learn how to create stunning animations using hundreds of characters, backgrounds, sounds and more.

Take the first leap into the world of professional animation with the amazing ToonBoom. Make your characters move and learn how to create stunning animations using basic and advanced techniques.

Gain hacking skills and solve challenges. Every moment in the cyber space there are hacker attacks, intelligence gathering and thousands of companies that defend themselves. It’s important to be aware of the capabilities of cyber and acquire skills that will open incredible opportunities for you in this field, today and in your future.

The program was developed by former Israel Defense Forces members of 8200 Technological Unit and the Cyber Defense Unit.

Your new collection is waiting for you – all you have to do is design it! Explore the world of patterns, textures and fabrics while using a 3D fashion design software. Bring your designs to life in a 3D computer fashion show.

Take stunning photos with digital cameras and learn to master the different settings and modes. Learn how to take and create interesting photos. Create a gallery, select your favorite photo and get a large print you can take home.

The party is about to begin and you are the DJ! Create your own tracks using professional mixing and audio editing software. Take your music to the next level and discover more effects and techniques that will make you a hit at dance parties.

Learn to program and fly drones in the workshop that will get you up high in the air. Avoid the craziest obstacles, hit a target with a flying cannon and even get that TV remote without standing up!

The big screen is waiting for you! Work in a small team and write a script, direct your short film and record the action with a video camera. You will also learn the basics of editing in Adobe Premiere®!

Love playing computer games? Now is your time to make your own! Use Microsoft’s Kodu software to create your first computer game. Design characters, build 3D levels and program the characters to follow your own game rules.

Develop your game-building skills using Game Maker Studio and create your own new action game. Program and build game rules with music and sound effects. Let your imagination run wild as you create games that can run on computers and phones.

Want to become a graphic designer? This is how you do it: Use Adobe Photoshop to edit and manipulate images and apply awesome effects. Create an amazing image and receive it printed on your very own poster.

What do you want your robot to do? Build a sophisticated robot using the exciting Lego EV3 kit. Work as a team to design, build and program an independent robot that runs through challenging tasks on your command.

Be a part of the hottest field in the tech industry by designing a mobile app! Creativity, fun and challenges are all part of the development process. Ready to make your first app?

Your first step into the software industry. Learn the basics of computer programming with Microsoft® Visual C# language (C-Sharp). Code your first programs and simple computer games!

Design a YouTube channel to showcase your passions and interests. Make it your own by designing the logo and shooting, editing and uploading short “shows” and clips. Add graphics and special effects to take your content to the next level!

#BIGIDEA Northbrook In Action

Four Big Ideals

# Innovation & Creativity

Through the workshops, we enable campers to burst beyond boundaries of imagination with constant encouragement.

# Mutual Respect & Tolerance

Campers and counselors from Israel and United States make up our camp community. This gathering allows participants to explore and experience a multi-cultural society. Everyone will add their touch to the community and gain from exposure to others.

# Israel Connection

Raising the story of modern Israel’s success in technology and development will create pride and connection with Israel and Jewish culture.

# Leadership

At #BIGIDEA, participants with many skills, interests and background create a platform for each to find leadership strengths in many areas: technological, social or something unique.

Learn More with the Workshop App

Take an interactive look at the workshops and projects done by past campers!

Interact Now

 Your Day, Your Way

Each day consists of two workshops plus an unplugged activity. Of course, there will be plenty of camp fun added along the way, especially during our outrageous closing ceremonies. 

Sample Schedule
8:45am Drop Off at JCC   12:15pm Lunch
9:00am Workshop 1   12:45pm Workshop 2
10:30am Snack   2:15pm All Camp Activity & Closing
10:45am Unplugged   3:00pm Pick Up at JCC

Summer is not for school, it’s for experimenting and creating while have loads of fun. #BIGIDEA offers all of this and more.

#BIGIDEA fosters independence, mutual respect and a great sense of achievement. All workshops are hands-on and campers need no previous knowledge to participate. Technology exploration takes place in small groups of no more than 8 campers allowing for individualized attention and collaboration. Instructors encourage campers to find their passions and then help them take it to the next level.

At the end of each session, campers will have completed a final project that they can take home.

Each day campers get away from computers and participate in traditional camp fun throughout the Bernard Weinger JCC and Marvin Lustbader Health Club, Powered by Midtown. The offerings change each day and campers can choose what they want to do.

  • Art
  • Basketball
  • Climbing Wall
  • Construction
  • Fitness (Queenax, Zumba, Obstacle Course)
  • Gaga
  • Games
  • Outdoor Cooking
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • … and more!

There’s even more fun with theme days, Israel activities, songs, games and everything that makes J Camp so special.

We hire only the best instructors and counselors with the commitment and compassion you expect from a J Camp program.

Awesome instructors from Israel lead the tech workshops. These experts are college students or graduates and alumni of tech units in the Israel Defense Forces. They have a rich experience working with kids and teens at summer camps and other educational programs.

Camp staff also includes American group counselors and JCC activity specialists who supervise group time and unplugged activities.

All staff complete a thorough and detailed recruitment and orientation process.

Be a Host Family

Our staff from Israel are Shlichim, Israeli emissaries, who come to us through The Jewish Agency. They travel to Chicago to share Israeli culture and also to become part of our community. We are looking for families to generously open their homes to host one of our staff for two weeks or the whole summer. If you are interested in bringing a taste of Israel into your family this summer, contact Abby Ashkenazi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our goal is for all campers to participate in the workshops of their choice. After registering for camp, you will receive an email that prompts you to select your top three choices. As we get closer to the start of camp, each camper will be assigned to two of the three workshops.

For the rare case that we can’t get campers into their top two choices, we will contact you prior to the start of camp. Campers will receive a schedule with their workshops on the first day of the session.

Campers can either bring their own bagged lunches every day or sign up for our lunch program ($72/session) through CampInTouch. All bagged lunches will be refrigerated when a camper arrives to camp. The menu for the lunch program will be available in the spring.

The last day of each session is a pizza party lunch, which is included in the cost of the camp fee.

Safety and inclusion are top priorities at JCC Chicago Day Camps. Our camps are committed to being allergy-safe. While our camps are not allergen-free, we strive to make our camp environments as safe as possible for children with food allergies using a customized approach and working closely with each family to develop an action plan for the child. Read the allergy policy.

Our lead instructors come from Israel and speak English and Hebrew. All workshops and activities are conducted in English. With all the Israeli spirit and fun at camp, don’t be surprised if your camper learns few words of Hebrew along the way.

Campers will have the option to swim as one of their unplugged activities. Swimming at BIG IDEA is all free swim. We do not provide swim lessons. All campers must pass a basic swim test at the start of the session to participate in pool activities.

If you are looking for additional swim lessons during the summer, please visit JCC Aquatics to learn more about our programs and options.

We partner with Keshet to provide one-on-one support or accommodations for campers with disabilities. Please contact Jennifer Phillips at 847.205.0274 for more information and to schedule a time for a confidential intake prior to registering for #BIGIDEA.


Our staff from Israel are Shlichim, Israeli emissaries, who come to us through the Jewish Agency. They travel to Chicago to share Israeli culture and also to become part of our community. We are looking for families to generously open their homes to host one of our staff for two weeks or the whole summer.

If you are interested in bringing a taste of Israel into your family this summer, contact Abby Ashkenazi.

This amazing opportunity to open to all families regardless if their children attend #BIGIDEA.

abby ashkenazi

Abby Ashkenazi

Director, #BIGIDEA Northbrook

Abby Ashkenazi has worked for JCC Chicago for twenty-two years in a variety of roles. She discovered the Big Idea program while on a trip to Israel and she is very excited to be involved with #BIGIDEA Northbrook. Abby has created Israel Experience programming in conjunction with Israeli and local staff for many of the Apachi J Camps, as well as Israeli exchange programs for campers and artists. She is also the Director of Apachi Ivrit, our Hebrew Immersion day camp. Abby was a JCC Chicago camper herself, and she wants to recreate the special experiences she had with her campers now in a more contemporary way. She loves greeting her campers in the morning and making time to get to know them individually. They really inspire her!

Abby holds dual degrees in Jewish History and African Studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. She participates in ongoing training and mentoring in Applied Linguistics  and Program Design for second language acquisition through Middlebury College and the Areivim Philanthropic Group. During the school year, Abby is JCC Chicago’s Jewish Educator. In her free time, she collects books about Abraham Lincoln, loves to travel, especially to Israel, and she carries her mahjongg card in her purse in case there is a mahjongg emergency requiring an extra player.

Please Note: Ages and grades listed below are as of the 2019-20 school year.

#BIGIDEA Pricing & Registration

Session 1 | 2 Wks6/17-6/28
Session 2 | 2 Wks7/1-7/12$990
Session 3 | 2 Wks7/15-7/26$990
Session 4 | 2 Wks7/29-8/9$990


Try Chi

3rd–6th grade | Aug 11-14 | $349
Try Chi is the best way to get a taste of quality Jewish overnight camping. Campers meet new friends, and live in cabins with experienced, caring counselors who help them feel comfortable right away. They’ll feel the spirit of camp with cookouts, campfires, sing-alongs and great evening programs.

Learn More

Share Your Apachi Love

Apachi is very special and we want to thank you for telling your friends and family about camp. Receive $75 off your camp fee for each NEW camper that registers for Apachi and lists you as their referral source!

Learn More

Contact Us

For more information or to request a tour, contact us at 847.272.7050 or complete the form below.

Looking for a different Apachi J Camp?

We have options throughout the Chicagoland area.

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