Author Archives: Foundation for Jewish Camp

Foundation for Jewish Camp

About Foundation for Jewish Camp

Climbing a rock wall, getting up on water skis, singing around a campfire – camp is bliss. Jewish camp is all of this…with a soul. What does that mean? While campers are having a blast, they are gaining independence, learning new skills, and making best friends plus they are living Jewish values like tikkun olam (repairing the world) and experiencing the importance of community. Judaism is weaved into everyday activities providing a connection that stays with campers long after they eat their last s’more. The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) works with over 150 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps of all denominations across North America to increase the number of campers, inspire camp leaders, and develop programs to strengthen camps. Read more about Jewish camp, FJC, & our research on the power of Jewish camp at www.JewishCamp.org

Jewish Camp Gift Guide: Day 4

4. For your camper who can’t get enough s’mores

Is there anything out there more camp-y than s’mores? Probably not! That’s why the entire family will love making them all year round with this amazing s’mores maker.

smores maker blog

S’mores maker ($14.00 on Amazon)

Check out Day 3

Posted on December 18, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jewish Camp Gift Guide: Day 3

3. For your camper who LOVES song session

For so many campers, song session is the epitome of Jewish camp. They jump, dance and scream along to all their favorite

Ukulele blog

A Ukulele Starter Pack ($39.99 from Guitar Center)

Check out Day 2

Posted on December 17, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jewish Camp Gift Guide: Day 2

2. For your camper who always masters the challenge course

For the kids that loves a good challenge, nothing is better than the opportunity to tackle the ropes course on camp. Why not challenge them at home with a custom camp map puzzle?

br_Map_smaller blog

Custom Camp Map Puzzle ($17.99 from Create Jigsaw Puzzles)

 Check out Day 1.

Posted on December 16, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jewish Camp Gift Guide: Day 1

When the weather is cold and damp, the camp season seems incredibly far away. That’s why Hanukkah is the perfect time for summer camp inspired gifts. Check back every day for a new camp inspired gift!

1. For your camper whose favorite activity is Arts & Crafts

For so many campers, Art & Crafts is the activity they most look forward to. It is always their first choice and their first stop during free time. Keep the spirit of camp in all of their artwork during the year with a set of colored pencils that look like twigs.

colored pencils blog

Branch and Twig Colored Pencils ($3.99 on Amazon)

Posted on December 15, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

How to Pay for Jewish Sleepaway Camp

Whether you’re investigating a camp to send your child to in summer 2015 or still figuring out this summer’s plans, you’re definitely thinking about the cost of this experience of a lifetime. It’s on our minds too. We recently saw this video on CNBC.com offering advice to parents for saving money on camp:

While the tips provided in this video are helpful, we have some additional resources to share that may help your family pay for camp:

  • Many camps offer early registration incentives or sibling discounts.  Most also offer scholarship assistance or you may be able to receive aid from your local Jewish organizations. Visit FJC’s scholarship page and contact your synagogue or federation for additional information.
  • Families in the Northeast, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions may be eligible for BunkConnect TM, a pilot program that matches income-eligible families with high-quality nonprofit Jewish summer camps at low introductory rates. Finding out if you qualify is quick and confidential.
  • If your child has never been to a Jewish overnight camp before, they may be eligible for a need-blind One Happy Camper grant of up to $1000. Learn how.

Posted on May 6, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Make Your Child One Happy Camper!

One Happy Camper and BunkConnectJewish overnight camp is about so much more than campfires and color war. At camp, kids get the chance to explore who they are—and who they want to become—in an active, inspiring, fun-filled environment. (Marshmallows included.) But paying for camp can be difficult.  We get it—we are parents too.

We have some easy ways to make the dream of overnight summer camp a reality for your child.  We can even help you find the perfect camp—no matter what your background, you will find a place your child will have fun, be comfortable, learn more about themselves, and explore their Jewish identity.

BunkConnect.org
If your family lives in the northeast, check out BunkConnect, a new program that offers introductory rates at 40-60% off to first time campers. Finding out if you qualify is quick and confidential—answer six questions at BunkConnect.org. Then start browsing for the right summer experience for your child for this summer! The website will connect you right to the camp director to learn more about the experience.

One Happy Camper
BunkConnect doesn’t work for your family? One Happy Camper offers first time campers up to $1000 off. With over 155 Jewish camps on Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Find a Camp tool – search out the perfect one. You can narrow down your search by choosing preferred session length, specialty activities, denomination, and more. Once you choose a camp visit OneHappyCamper.org to see if you are eligible for a need-blind grant.

Scholarship
While you are on our website, visit our scholarship database. Don’t forget to talk to your synagogue, local federation, JCC or other Jewish organizations. Many have scholarships available to make summers at Jewish camp a reality

At Jewish camp, ruach (spirit) is part of every activity—from dancing to hitting a home run—allowing campers to explore their connection to Judaism in a meaningful way while having the summer of their lives. Clearly, we are a little passionate about this. You will see the difference in your child the minute they return home. The impact of overnight Jewish camp is immediate. At camp, kids hang out with amazing role models, who inspire confidence and independence, guiding your child to hone their skills, build self-esteem, and discover interests and talents they never knew they had.

We can’t wait for your child to have the summer of a lifetime. (And you get a bit of a break from the logistics of the daily grind, not bad…)

Posted on April 4, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Tech Side of Camp

by Rabbi Jason Miller

20140324_FJC_LEADERS_ASSEMBLY_MZ_0672 - CopyNew Brunswick, NJ – As Jewish camp leaders once again convened at Leaders Assembly, the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s biennial conference here in New Brunswick, there was a lot of networking taking place – both in person and via social media. The dozens of ad hoc camp reunions taking place in the hallways of the hotel also materialized into an exchange of best practices for these Jewish camp professionals. The hot topic this year was the use of technology, both in the back office of the camp operations and front and center for campers, their parents and alumni.

What role all of this new technology plays for the Jewish summer camp industry was hashed out in breakout sessions at the camp confab in what were termed “Hot Topics” and also discussed in the “Shuk” where the companies that provide this new technology were camped out. “Do you keep your camper registrations and medical forms in the cloud?”, “Who manages your alumni Facebook page?”, “Have you started Instagram or Pinterest accounts,” and “Which online service do you use for staff background checks” were just some of the questions overheard at the conference.

While many don’t typically associate high tech with the camp world, which for generations was thought of as a low tech industry, there’s no question that camps have come to depend on the latest support applications in the technology world to run their camps efficiently, effectively and safely in the 21st century. After all, while one of the core missions of the overnight summer camp experience may continue to be allowing our youth to unplug from their electronic gadgets for several weeks each summer, the camps charged with that mission must be run like businesses. And that means using the best technology to manage everything from security, registration, financials and medical information to social network engagement, summertime communication and alumni relations.

In one “Hot Topic” session, Sacha Litman, the founder of Measuring Success, demonstrated the importance of using “Big Data” to help camps with their year-round engagement efforts. Big corporations, he explained, have been using “Big Data” for many years and in 2014 summer camps need to utilize the same data tools to acquire new campers and maintain existing relationships with both current staff and the valuable alumni who are now positioned to donate and send their children or grandchildren to the camp. These data measuring tools have been available to camps for years, but most didn’t know how to put that data to good use for philanthropic or camper recruitment and retainment purposes. Litman’s plea that camps focus on engaging their campers twelve months a year rather than in the traditional camp recruitment season was a theme echoed throughout the 3-day conference, which ended Tuesday afternoon.

Read the rest of this article on eJewish Philanthropy.

Posted on March 26, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jewish Funders Network Awards Inaugural Shapiro Prize to Foundation for Jewish Camp

The Jewish Funders Network has named the Foundation for Jewish Camp as the inaugural recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Excellence in Philanthropic Collaboration, for being the first funder collaboration to advocate for, promote, and strengthen Jewish camps on a wide scale.

The new prize recognizes alliances of forward-thinking Jewish funders who collaborate to achieve broader impact in their chosen fields of interest. It was presented Sunday at the annual JFN conference in Miami Beach.

Until FJC was founded in1998 by Elisa Spungen Bildner and her husband Robert Bildner, Jewish camps ran independently or within their religious movements. The Bildners envisioned collaborating with other funders, and received support from The Samuel Bronfman Foundation and The Wexner Foundation.

The creation of FJC expanded support for the field and brought long-term vitality to more camps and their programming.

Read the rest of this feature on eJewish Philanthropy.

Posted on March 10, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Counselor and Camper Costumes & More Purim Fun

Purim’s getting close, so we’re sharing some camp-themed costume ideas for you to enjoy!

One of the most delicious memories of camp is s’mores roasting over a fire, so why not dress as one? Your toddler will be so yummy in this S’more Costume!

more-costume

 

Channel your inner counselor! Get dressed up as your favorite madrich or madricha with these colorful whistles. Bonus: You can use them in place of a grogger during the Megillah reading!

whistles

 

Continuing with the counselor theme, how about adding a backpack to round out the costume? This cool tye-dye Jansport backpack will also be perfect for carrying and delivering mishloach manot, or Purim food gifts.

backpack

 

Round out your counselor costume with this Columbia Bora Bora sun hat. It may not necessarily be sunny this Purim, but it sure will get you in the mood for summer (and of course, summer camp!)

safari-hat

Share your Purim fun with family and friends! Send this Purim gift basket full of kosher hamatashen, adorable masks and other fun activities.

purfunlg

 We hope you enjoy our camp-themed Purim picks, and chag sameach!

Posted on March 7, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jewish Camp Trendspotting: 10 Ways a Summer Ritual is Changing

By Julie Wiener

URJ Six Points Sports Academy is one of five specialty camps that opened in 2010. (URJ Six Points Sports Academy)

Nostalgia about summer traditions notwithstanding, Jewish camps have changed dramatically from a generation ago.

Camp’s value for Jewish education and identity-building is now a major focus of communal attention. Major Jewish foundations, federations and organizations are investing heavily in the sector.

Many camps have become more intentional about incorporating Jewish learning, Shabbat and Israel into their programming. They’ve also evolved to meet families’ changing expectations and demands: offering a wider range of choices of all kinds (from food to activity to session length); providing more frequent updates and communications to parents; accommodating numerous medical requirements and allergies;and placing greater emphasis on safety and security.

At the same time, the Jewish camping field is becoming more professionalized. The job of camp director has been shifting from a seasonal gig to year-round career, and counselors are receiving more intensive training.

With all this change in the Jewish camp world, here are 10 specific trends we have noticed:

1) Shorter sessions: Once upon a time, summer camp meant the entire summer, with the majority of campers attending for seven, eight or even 10 weeks. Now it is the rare child or teen who spends the full summer at camp (or at one camp), and most programs offer multiple sessions, ranging in length from just six days to seven weeks. “Our three-week session has always sold out more quickly than the four-week, and our new two-week session has been a quick hit as well,” said Vivian Stadlin, co-director of Eden Village Camp in Putnam Valley, N.Y.

2) Specialized programs: Whether a child’s passion is sports, the environment, outdoor adventure or science and technology, there’s a Jewish camp for that. An incubator under the auspices of the Foundation for Jewish Camp spurred the creation of five specialty camps in 2010 (including Eden Village, which is focused on the environment) and another four that will open this summer. The idea is to attract kids who might not otherwise consider a Jewish camp and to show them they can combine their passion with Judaism. Increasingly, established general-interest Jewish camps are adding specialty tracks and electives. For example, the New Jersey Y camps offer a science program and various sports programs, while Ramah in the Poconos has run basketball clinics and a tennis academy.

3) Healthier food: Serving healthy, locally sourced food is a part of the mission of some specialty camps like the new health-and-wellness-focused Camp Zeke and was a component of Ramah Outdoor Adventure from its beginnings in 2010. In addition, many established Jewish camps have been redoing their menus to make them more nutritious and environmentally friendly: adding salad bars, replacing “bug juice” with water, offering more vegetarian fare and even planting their own organic vegetable gardens.

4) More affordable options: The Foundation for Jewish Camp recently introduced a new program called BunkConnect that enables first-time campers from middle- and lower-income families to search for a variety of discounted Jewish summer camp options. While BunkConnect is currently only available in the Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, the foundation hopes to expand it in future years. In addition, most Jewish overnight camps offer financial aid and the One Happy Camper Program, initiated in 2006, offers grants for all first-time campers regardless of need. So far 50,000 children have received One Happy Camper grants.

5) Broadening definition of camp: While rural settings and rustic accommodations are still the norm, two specialty camps — the Union for Reform Judaism’s Six Points Sports Academy and Six Points Science & Technology — are located on boarding school campuses, and another, the 92nd Street Y’s Passport NYC, is in the middle of Manhattan. Passport NYC, in which participants do internships and live in air-conditioned dorms, and Six Points Science blur the boundary between “camp” and “summer program,” while programs like USY on Wheels and Adamah Adventures, which operate under the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s umbrella, blur the boundary between “camp” and “teen travel.”

Read the rest of this feature on JTA.

Posted on February 20, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy