Author Archives: Alicia Zimbalist

Alicia Zimbalist

About Alicia Zimbalist

Alicia Zimbalist is the senior manager, external communications at the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC). After directing public relations work for several companies in the private sector, Alicia followed her dream and brought her professional expertise to the nonprofit world. She joined the FJC team in 2009 to manage public relations efforts as well as support the Foundation’s advocacy and internal relations work. A native New Yorker, Alicia lives in Manhattan with her husband, Ross, and son, Sam.

How to Pick a Jewish Sleepaway Camp

Every summer, thousands of kids trade in their phones, Facebook, and video games for zip-lines, s’mores, and bunkmates at Jewish camps. Campers at over 155 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps participate in activities ranging from color war and arts & crafts to waterskiing. While they’re having a great time, they’re also discovering values like independence, friendship, and community, in the midst of Jewish culture.

The questions that follow are designed to help parents navigate the plethora of Jewish camp options across the U.S. and Canada. You can also use this helpful Find-a-Camp search tool.

Here are some questions to help guide your search: 

First consider:

Am I looking for a traditional camp or a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity?

Does my child need lots of instruction and structure? Or would they prefer more independence?

Does my child have dietary or physical needs?

What size camp will make my child feel comfortable?

Do I want the camp to be affiliated with a particular movement or organization?

What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer?

What type of landscape are you looking for? How far from home?

What is my budget?

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few camps, explore these questions: 

What are the camp’s values and philosophies?

How are Jewish experiences incorporated into the camp program?

Is the camp affiliated with any denominational movement?

Is the camp co-ed? What is the interaction like between different ages and genders?

How big is the camp? How many kids are in each bunk?

What percent of campers return each year?

Are there specialty programs or trips that cost extra? Will you need to provide spending money?

How does the camp ensure campers’ safety and security?

How are behavioral and disciplinary problems handled?

What is the camp’s technology policy?

Does the camp offer transportation to and/or from camp?

What is the minimum age of the counselors? What kind of staff training is provided?