As you consider what camp is the best fit for your child, we encourage you to consider Jewish summer camps. Over the years you may have heard me speak about the transformative experiences I have witnessed while serving as a faculty member at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Eisner Camp. But you do not have to take my word on the power of Jewish camping. The Foundation for Jewish Camp compiled data from over 25 Jewish population studies and found overwhelming evidence indicating that attending Jewish summer camp strengthens Jewish identity and builds Jewish community (jewishcamp.org/research).
The wider Jewish community and Temple Israel believe so strongly in Jewish overnight camp experiences that we have grants available to help you try it out. The Foundation for Jewish Camp’s “One Happy Camper” program provides $1000 for each child attending an eligible Jewish camp for the first time. In addition, Temple Israel’s Hirshenhorn Fund gives additional funds to children attending an eligible Jewish overnight camp for the first time (or traveling to Israel with an organized teen program). Please contact me for more information on these sources of funding at RabbiNichols@tinr.org.
How do you choose a camp for this summer or a summer in the future? Your Temple Israel community is the best place to start. Talk with your friends, parents in your children’s grades and our staff. The clergy and professional staff can share their own experiences attending and working at camp, as well as connect you with families in the congregation who have attended over a dozen different Jewish camps. For a full picture of all there is to choose from, the Foundation for Jewish Camp has profiles of over 150 Jewish camps on their website (jewishcamp.org) with an easy to use way to sort by geography, activities, Jewish affiliation and other features.
The summer is a unique time for kids to immerse themselves in a Jewish community away from the pressures of the school year. In addition to traditional overnight camps there are local and national programs focusing on travel, volunteering, history and more. We look forward to holding many conversations with you about the wide variety of Jewish summer opportunities open to your children and teens. Start 5777 thinking about CAMP!
Let us know some of your memories, leave a comment below for Rabbi Nichols to read!