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

It’s Jewish Disability Awareness Month!

JDAM Blog 1February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM)! JDAM is “a unified initiative to raise awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide.” Inclusion at Jewish camp is a topic that is very important to us at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Many of the camps we work with offer programs to campers with a wide range of disabilities. We are working to increase these opportunities, elevate staff training on inclusion, and increase community awareness about the inclusion programs that exist around them.  To further the effort, we are running a series dedicated to discussing disabilities at Jewish camp this month.

Check back every Tuesday and Thursday in February for posts by camp directors, experts in the field, former campers, and more.

Posted on February 3, 2015

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 Summer Camp: The Questions You Should Be Asking

This blog post was reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily.

Thinking of sending your kids to Jewish summer camp (this year or in the future)? Not sure where to start or what you might want to keep in mind about the experience of your child, a child of interfaith parents? It’s possible you haven’t considered any of these questions yet, but a camp that may seem warm and fuzzy may not be the most schooled in how to project an open and welcoming atmosphere to interfaith families.

Here’s what Jane Larkin, InterfaithFamily parenting blogger, Jodi Bromberg, IFF President and Lindsey Silken, Editorial Director, suggest asking the camp director. (Of course, you’ll want to adapt these questions as appropriate for your family.) And once you’re ready to start searching for a welcoming camp, our resource page can help.

1. Do you welcome children of interfaith families at your camp?

2. Does the camp require that the child is being raised Jewish?

3. Can dual-faith or secular interfaith children qualify? What about children who are in the process of converting to Judaism? Does it matter which parent is Jewish?

4. Do you have a definition of who is considered Jewish by the camp and who is not? How is that communicated to staff and campers?

5. What’s the percentage of interfaith campers and counselors at your camp?

6. What training or education do administrative staff get on working with interfaith families?

7. What training or education do counselors or CITs get on working with interfaith families?

8. What programming is specifically done regarding Jewish education, ritual or practice? (Ask yourself: How “Jewish” do you want your child’s experience to be? There is a wide range of options.)

[Related questions to consider: Is the camp kosher or kosher-style? Is there Jewish education? Israel education? How frequent is it? Do the children pray? When? What aboutShabbat? Is the camp aligned with a Jewish denomination or movement? Are Jewish clergy on staff? Are they welcoming and accepting of interfaith families?]

9. Will I receive information on what my kids are doing each week, including any Hebrew words that they are learning (or any other Jewish education), so that I can understand and participate?

10. Do you do specific outreach to children of interfaith families, or anything specific to ensure that they are welcome at your camp? And what will you do to ensure that my children are welcome at camp?

11. What philosophy does the camp emphasize? For example, Jane’s son Sammy’s camp places a strong emphasis on personal growth and positive self-image. They accept Jewish kids of every race and ethnicity, from a wide range of Jewish backgrounds including many who are from interfaith homes, with learning differences, etc. The camp’s philosophy indicates that a significant amount of energy goes into making a broad spectrum of Jewish kids feel comfortable.

A few suggestions for parents:

1. Visit the camp. Go the summer before you are ready to send your child to see the camp in action. Take your child with you. Ask if the camp offers a family retreat weekend during the school year that your entire family can attend. The whole family can get a taste of the camp experience: see if they are comfortable with the Jewish aspect of the camp and meet other prospective camp families. Many families do this and friends their child makes during the weekend often plan to attend camp together or request to be in the same bunk during the summer.

Counselor and camper2. Let your child experience overnight camp before they go to overnight camp for the summer. Many of the camps—especially those affiliated with a denomination or movement—offer weekend youth retreats for children, usually in third to fifth grade. These are kid-only experiences with camp staff. They are not billed as “check-out camp” but rather youth retreats so they are a mix of experienced campers and kids going for the first time. These outings are opportunities for children to “live” camp for 48 hours. If a child comes home excited about the experience, it is a good indication that they are ready to go to camp, and that the camp is a good fit.

3. Camp can be expensive. Determine what you can afford. If you need additional help, there are scholarships available for first time campers and some camps offer assistance for interfaith families. We recommend learning about Foundation for Jewish Camp’s programs: BunkConnect (matches eligible families with affordable camps) and One Happy Camper(need blind grants of up to $1,000 for first-time campers).

4. Does your child have a specific passion? Jewish summer camps have become hip to specialization. There are now Jewish sports, art and sci-tech focused camps. Today kids can have an interest-specific and Jewish camp experience at the same place.

Posted on January 23, 2015

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

5 Things We Are Looking Forward To In 2015

2014 was a big year for Jewish camping and 2015 will be even better! Check out this list of 5 great things we are looking forward to this year:

1. BunkConnect

friendsThis year, FJC launched BunkConnect, an affordability initiative designed to help more middle and lower income families attend Jewish camp for the first time. With special rates as much as 40-60% off, BunkConnect helps first time camp families find the best summer experience for their children at an affordable cost.

2. Disability Initiatives

Traditionally, attending overnight camp is difficult for many children with disabilities due to limitations on staff, accessibility, and programming. This year, Lisa Tobin joined the ranks of FJC as the Director of Disability Initiatives. Lisa has been working with camps to help them reach out to and provide camp experiences to children with a range of disabilities. Through webinars, training, and the creation of a database of camps, FJC is actively working to turn the dream of Jewish overnight camp into a reality for disabled children.

3. Specialty Day Camp Incubator

The benefits of FJC’s Incubator are not just limited to overnight camps! This year, four day camps were chosen to participate in FJC’s Specialty Day Camp Incubator. Through mentor meetings and monthly workshops, the leaders at these day camps are learning to enhance their skills and programming to provide specialty day camp opportunities to new campers.

Camp_03544. World Jewry Joint Initiative

Earlier this year, the government of Israel hosted a meeting on the relationship between Israel and the global Jewish population to create the World Jewry Joint Initiative. Our own CEO, Jeremy Fingerman, was invited to Israel to attend and contribute to this endeavor. With a mission of enabling Jewish youth and young adults as active participants in Jewish life with a strong engagement with Israel, the World Jewry Joint Initiative is a revolutionary leap forward in inspiring Jewish citizens around the world.

The Initiative has released a list of areas to explore in terms of content, programming, and advocacy. Where did Jewish camp fall on this list? It came in at #2, signifying the vital role that Jewish summer camps play in the promotion of Jewish engagement and identity!

5. The Magic of Jewish Camp

In 2014, more than 76,000 campers and 11,000 staff members had magical and unforgettable summer at Jewish camp! They ran, climbed, sang, cheered, prayed, laughed, danced, and swam their way through every Shabbat, color war, song session and evening program. They reconnected with old friends and made even more new ones. They learned a lot and gained important new skils. Their lives were changed in one short camp session. We can’t wait to top all of that in 2015!

Posted on January 5, 2015

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

Complete Jewish Camp Gift Guide

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.

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

colored pencils blog

Branch and Twig Colored Pencils ($3.99 on Amazon)

 

2. For your camper who always masters the challenge course

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

 

3. For your camper who LOVES song session

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A Ukulele Starter Pack ($39.99 from Guitar Center)

 

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

smores maker blog

S’mores maker ($14.00 on Amazon)

 

5. For your tech savvy camper

ipad cover blogiphone cover blog

Wood Cabin style tech accessories ($10.00 on Amazon and $22.00 on Amazon)

 

6. For your camper who comes home with even their socks tie dyed

tie dye duvet blog

Tie Dyed duvet cover ($99.00 – $139.00 from PBTeen)

 

7. For your social butterfly camper

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Custom photo playing cards ($19.99 from Shutterfly)

 

8. For your camper who takes full advantage of rest hour

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S’more Pillow Warmer ($39.99 from Smoko)

 

9. For your youngest camper

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Felt Campfire Set ($85.00 on Etsy)

 

10. For your camper going off to college

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A Camp T-Shirt Quilt (starting at $59.99 from Project Repat)

Posted on December 24, 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: Bonus!

9. For your youngest camper

Let your little camper practice roasting marshmallows all year round with their very own plush campfire set.

campfire blog

Felt Campfire Set ($85.00 on Etsy)

 

10. For your camper going off to college

What better way for your college aged camper to hold on to all of their hard earned camp shirt than as a blanket for their dorm room?

tshirt quilt blog

A Camp T-Shirt Quilt (starting at $59.99 from Project Repat)

Posted on December 23, 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 8

8. For your camper who takes full advantage of rest hour

If your camper takes every opportunity to sneak in a quick nap or some quiet reading time, why not make them more comfortable with this adorable s’mores pillow. This will definitely lead them to some sweet dreams.

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S’more Pillow Warmer ($39.99 from Smoko)

Check out day 7.

Posted on December 22, 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 7

7. For your social butterfly camper

If your camper misses their bunk mates, a custom set of playing cards with their favorite camp photos could be the perfect gift! Let them show off their camp memories while playing all the classic card games at camp and at home.

playing cards blog

Custom photo playing cards ($19.99 from Shutterfly)

Take a look at Day 6.

Posted on December 22, 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 6

6. For your camper who comes home with even their socks tie dyed

There is always one camper who tie dyes EVERYTHING they bring to camp. They simply cannot get enough. If that is your child, this duvet cover is perfect for them! Let them dream about tie dye all year long so they are ready when summer arrives.

tie dye duvet blog

Tie Dyed duvet cover ($99.00 – $139.00 from PBTeen)

Check out Day 5

Posted on December 19, 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 5

5. For your tech savvy camper

Your tech savvy camper may go the whole camp session without their electronics, but when during the year they are inseparable. Let them show their love of camp with these great “cabin wall” tech accessories.

ipad cover blogiphone cover blog

Wood Cabin style tech accessories ($10.00 on Amazon and $22.00 on Amazon)

Take a look back at Day 4.

Posted on December 19, 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 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