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

Summer Lovin’ – Amanda & Adam

AMANDA SAGARIN & ADAM THOMASHOW

adam and amanda 2002When/how/where at camp did you meet?
Adam and I knew each other in high school, as we were both participants in URJ’s NFTY-NE (North American Federation of Temple Youth). I grew up outside of Boston and Adam in Central Massachusetts.  However, we were not friends – we had never even had a conversation. The summer after we graduated high school, in 2002, we both worked at URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY (where we had attended as campers in high school students at different times).

Was it love right away?
The very first day we arrived we were waiting for orientation to start and decided to take a walk. By the end of the walk we knew that would become friends. Time at camp unravels differently than in “real life” and after a few weeks our friendship had grown and started taking the direction towards couplehood.

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
Adam was headed to college in Connecticut and I was taking a semester off, having deferred from a school in Massachusetts. Over a milkshake we decided we would try to have a long-distance relationship. This worked until the spring of our first year in college when we went our separate ways. Several years later, after not seeing or speaking with each other, we reconnected and last summer we were married.

968927_10152855630675394_1947759621_nWill you send your kids to your camp?
Absolutely! We want our future kids to have both a Jewish camp and Jewish youth group experience – we can’t imagine our lives without that foundation.

Amanda Sagarin and Adam Thomashow were married in summer 2012.  They currently live in Washington, DC where she is a social worker interested in systems-level change around breaking cycles of poverty and the empowerment of girls and women.  He is completing his education while deciding between several different types of technology to work within.

Posted on September 13, 2013

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

Summer Lovin’ – Alexandra & Eric

ALEXANDRA & ERIC SPITZ

Eric_Alex1993When/how/where at camp did you meet?
We attended Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu, CA as kids and met in the Summer of 1993 when Eric was 13 and I was 12. We were camp crushes for two summers in a row.

Was it love right away?
Absolutely!  We adored each other even at that young age. We even have a “Shabbat-O-Gram” that Eric had written Alex the first summer we met signed, “I love you, Eric Spitz”

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
We lived about an hour away from each other but at that age it may as well have been across the country! Needless to say, we lost touch after that last summer of 1994. Fast forward to 2006 when I finally gave in and signed up for a MySpace account. I had always remembered Eric and his infectious smile and fun-loving attitude so I decided to look him up.  I was still living in Los Angeles and I discovered that he was living in Miami. We were both in other relationships at the time but it was so nice to catch up over email. A year later, in June of 2007, he emailed me to say he would be in LA for his brother’s wedding the following month.  We made a plan to meet for a drink (to be safe!) on Tuesday when he arrived in town. Drinks turned into dinner which turned into many more hours of laughing and catching up. We had both recently broken off the relationships we had been in so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  We spent as much time as possible together over the next five days while he was still in town and by Sunday he had decided that he was going to move back to LA so we could be together.  He went back to Miami, organized the move and on Spitz_007September 6th got in his car and drove cross country. We hadn’t seen each other since he had visited in July so we were both taking a huge leap, though it felt completely normal and as if we had been together for many years. We had a connection at 12 and the feelings came back instantly when we saw each other again. We were engaged about 10 months later and got married in May of 2009 at the only venue we could possibly imagine: CAMP!!! We had our close friends and family stay for the weekend and we enjoyed all of the activities camp had to offer.  We transformed the camp grounds into a gorgeous, rustic wedding setting and could not be happier with how it turned out!

Will you send your kids to your camp?
There is no question and we cannot wait to!  Many of our friends and family members also went to camp…it is a huge part of our lives. We attended our first family camp weekend when our son was 16 months and we can’t wait to do it every year until he is old enough to go on his own.

Eric and Alexandra Spitz currently reside in Orange County, CA with their 2 year old son, Jack and dog Lucy.  Eric is an Account Manager for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. serving the entire Orange County region. Alexandra is a Certified Parent Educator and Certified Newborn Care Specialist and is currently taking care of their son while running her new business, OC Mommy and Me, a program for new moms in Orange County with babies 0-12 months. 

Posted on August 9, 2013

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

Summer Lovin’ – Mollie & Jon

MOLLIE & JON BECKER

campWhen/how/where at camp did you meet?
We knew each other since we were Oles, the youngest age group at Camp Tevya.  It wasn’t until the year before my Kinneret summer when I was 13 and Jon’s Tel Chai summer when he was 15 that we actually started talking.  We spent hours on end instant messaging and writing emails and then that summer, Jon asked me to be his girlfriend.  On the second night of camp, we were walking back from evening activity in the Girls Rec Hall and right before we passed the girl’s porch, Jon asked me if I wanted to “make it official.”

Was it love right away?
I think it was.  We were inseparable that first summer and for every summer after that.

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
Like all “serious” couples, during the last week of camp, we had a talk about what would happen over the year.  I remember sitting on the stone wall outside of the El Bess building right before the Ole play.  I was so nervous.  Jon said that he wanted to try and make it work and that we would call each other and visit one another over the year.  Living in two different states (Jon lived in Canton, MA and I grew up in Ambler, PA) was hard but we saw each other a handful of times during that year and talked on the phone constantly.  Needless to say, our parents were both not happy about the cost of our long distance phone calls.

Each summer from 1998 to 2003 we went back to camp together and during the school years we saw each other frequently.  In 2001, Jon graduated high school and went to school in Manchester, NH.  The following year, I went to school in Waltham, MA.  My parents always joked around that my only requirement for a college was that it was within an hour of Jon.  They were right!

nowOn New Year’s Eve in 2006, Jon proposed along Rose Warf in Boston.  The next year he moved to Philadelphia and then in 2008, we were married with many Camp Tevya alumni present to celebrate our big day.

A lot has happen since that first summer.  It is hard to believe that fifteen years have passed but what an incredible fifteen years it has been!  All thanks to our favorite place in the world-Camp Tevya!

Will you send your kids to your camp?
There is no doubt in our minds!  We will be signing Hailey up for double Dalia as soon as she is old enough.  As soon as she understands, we will start telling her stories about camp and she will know that there is no where better to spend her summers than at Camp Tevya!

Mollie and Jon Becker have been together for 15 years – ever since that first summer at Camp Tevya.  They currently live in Ambler, PA with their dog Pebbles, daughter Hailey, and are expecting another child in the fall of 2013.  Mollie works as a Project Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia and Jon is a SAP consultant who travels all over for IBM.  In March of this year, they celebrated their five year wedding anniversary.

Posted on July 12, 2013

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

Summer Lovin’ – Samantha & Brian

SAMANTHA & BRIAN ISENSTEIN

Scan.BMPWhen/how/where at camp did you meet?
We met in the picnic grove during lunch, on the second day of staff training in the summer of 2002.  Sam was an SIT (staff in training) that summer and came up early during staff training week (with her mom who was a nurse) to hang out with her friends who were already counselors. Brian happened to be friends with her friends.  We also happened to both still be wearing a concert bracelet from the week before, so that broke the ice for us.

Was it love right away?
No, it wasn’t.  Sam wasn’t that interested in Brian, so we remained friends that summer.

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
We stayed friends, and luckily Sam was at the University of Illinois and Brian was at University of Wisconsin so it wasn’t too far to visit.  After a couple of visits up to UW and spending time together on breaks, we were official in February 2003 and have been together ever since.  While Sam was staffing Camp Chi’s Pacific Northwest trip, Brian flew out to South Dakota and proposed in front of all her campers at Mt. Rushmore.

Michael Lee PhotographyWill you send your kids to your camp?
We’d love to send our future kids to Camp Chi, we could only hope that they would make the best friends that we’ve both made and maybe even be a 2nd generation of Camp Chi spouses.

Samantha (Sam) and Brian Isenstein were married in 2011 at JCC’s Camp Chi.  Sam is the Youth Community Director at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, IL.  She went to the University of Illinois and majored in International Studies and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson School of Jewish Education where she received her Masters in Jewish Education. Sam spent 12 fantastic summers at Camp Chi in Lake Delton, WI as a camper, SIT, counselor supervisor and trip leader.  Brian is an IT dude for a mid-sized accounting firm in Chicago.  He went to the University of Wisconsin and Depaul University in Chicago where he received his Masters of Science in Business Information Technology.  Brian spent 13 summers at Camp Chi as a camper, SIT and counselor.  

Posted on June 14, 2013

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Summer Lovin’ – Ahuva & Meir

AHUVA & MEIR BALOFSKY

Meir and Ahuva Balofsky - Cabin picWhen/how/where at camp did you meet?
We met at Camp Moshava Ennismore in 1995 – she was a CIT and I was a second year staff.  We were just friends for the first summer but the second summer she was a first year staff and I was a unit head.  I specifically asked that my good friend be on my staff/in my unit.  It worked out and that summer I ended up asking her out.

Was it love right away?
No.  Were just friends for the first year and most of the following summer.

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
She went to Israel for a year in Seminary and I was in University in Toronto.  We did the long distance relationship thing – back before phone calls were free and were still around a dollar a minute.

balofsky-41Will you send your kids to your camp?
Ahuva and I made Aliyah in 2004 with our three children, Moshe, Ariel and Shoshana.  Then for the following summer we ended up applying to go back to camp for the first time since the summer that we got together in 1996.  Long story short, it worked out and we’ve been going back every year since with our children.  Our daughter, having been to camp every summer of her life since she was 1 year old, is finally old enough to be a full session camper this year!

Meir and Ahuva Balofsky were both raised in Toronto and attended Camp Moshava as campers but their paths never really crossed until they met in 1995.   They were married in September of 1997 and both graduated from York University’s Jewish education teacher training program.  They lived in Toronto, teaching in Jewish day schools, and raising their three children until 2004 when they made Aliyah.  Meir currently works for the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan University program as the Informal Education Director and Ahuva teaches at a seminary in Jerusalem as well as teaches English.

 

Posted on May 10, 2013

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

Why Camp?

This third in a series of four blog entries, “Why Camp?” will examine some of the benefits that Jewish residential camping can provide for children based on the four part mission of Camp Tawonga. To read part one, click here. To read part two click here.

Part 3: Tikkun Olam- a partnership with nature

It is fitting that Earth Day was recently celebrated since a huge part of a camper’s experience of going to camp is being outside, going on adventures with friends in the outdoors and learning to love the natural world with all the benefits it provides.

Tawonga Summer 2012-4862At Camp Tawonga and countless other camps, simply being there is a literal breath of fresh air.  Campers leave the city and suburbs, where they spend 90% of their time, far behind and arrive at a bucolic, peaceful oasis where many of the other goals this blog series has highlighted are allowed to blossom and flourish.  Removed from the constant pull of technology and returned to a comfortably rustic style of living, children can connect to more timeless truths.  They can appreciate a refreshing dunk in a natural body of water and marvel at the beauty of a sunset, produced not by special effects but simply by the gentle brushstroke of the creator.

Beyond simply enjoying being outdoors, an experience at camp can help campers connect to the deep and ancient Jewish traditions of shomrei adamah (guarding the earth) and tikkun olam (repairing the world).  When campers go with their bunks on backpacking trips in the incomparable backcountry of Yosemite National Park, they not only forge deeper bonds with each other but also learn from our staff about the wilderness ethic of “leave no trace” as a way to take care of all places they visit.

Campers also learn that nature is not something that can be taken for granted. More than twenty years ago, Tawonga led a fight in the national forest that surrounds our camp to hold off aggressive logging companies and preserve the land for generations to come.  Campers help our maintenance staff with forestry and fire suppression work to learn about responsible management methods.

Campers will come home unconcerned with a grass stain on their shirt and some dirt under their nails.  Campers will tell their parents about their most spiritual moment at camp, often not at a formal prayer program, but rather on a solo sit at sunset, spread across a ridge overlooking a valley side by side with their bunkmates, silently staring in awe at the majesty of creation laid out before them, and contemplating their place in it.

What a camp experience can help a child realize is that we are not apart from nature, but rather a part of nature and that there is so much to be gained from engaging in outdoor experiences.

As the Foundation for Jewish Camp shared with the community earlier this year, “Think Outside, No Box Necessary!”

Posted on May 3, 2013

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Summer Lovin’ – Tamara & Neal

Camp and summer romances go hand in hand, and once in a while those early relationships actually go the distance.  We’re rounding up some great stories of young love that blossomed into real life marriage and delivering them to you in a monthly series called Summer Lovin’.

TAMARA LAWSON SCHUSTER & NEAL SCHUSTER 

photo (3)When/how/where at camp did you meet?
We met on staff at UAHC (now URJ) Camp Swig in Saratoga, CA the summer of 1987. Tamara was the CIT girls’ advisor and Neal was a counselor. We met during staff week.

Was it love right away? What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
Love right away, no, but we connected pretty early into the summer.  It was a summer romance which ended when we left camp and headed back to college in separate cities.  But…just over eight years later, in fall 1995, we reconnected through our jobs. Neal had just relocated to Los Angeles working for NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) as a recruiter for youth Israel programs.  Tamara was in her first job post grad school as Director of Education at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, CA. Neal had to make calls to rabbis and educators to set up group meetings with synagogue teens and their parents. His call to Tamara (whom he knew as Tammy back in the day) went something like the following: “Is this the same Tamara Lawson who used to be known as Tammy at Camp Swig?” And, well, the rest is history. We set up a time in December for Neal to meet with the TBT confirmation families and after the meeting the two of us hung out. By late January 1996 we were dating and, in June, upon Tamara’s return from Camp Swig (where she served on faculty during staff week and for the start of camp) Neal proposed while walking to baggage claim(!) at LAX airport!

tam and neal (3)Will you send your kids to your camp?
Already do!!!  Our kids (ages 12, 10 and 7) attend URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA, and we serve on faculty. Yes, we travel to the Seattle area (Neal’s hometown) for camp. Our kids love going to Camp Kalsman with their cousins and we love that camp is still a part of our lives!

 

Tamara and Neal Schuster were married in May 1997.  Tamara received her MAJE/MAJCS at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and currently serves as Director of Admissions at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA), a community day school.  Neal graduated from the HUC-JIR rabbinic program in Los Angeles and currently serves as Senior Jewish Educator at University of Kansas Hillel.  They live in Overland Park, KS with their three kids.


Posted on April 12, 2013

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Summer Lovin’ – Sharon & Marshall

Camp and summer romances go hand in hand, and once in a while those early relationships actually go the distance.  We’re rounding up some great stories of young love that blossomed into real life marriage and delivering them to you in a monthly series called Summer Lovin’.

MARSHALL CARROLL and SHARON CHISVIN

uspr1981When/how/where at camp did you meet?

We met at Camp Massad in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, Canada in 1981. I was a cabin counsellor and she was in charge of the counsellor-in-training program. As I unloaded mattresses off the camp van during training session, Sharon said to a friend “That’s the guy I am going to marry.”

Was it love right away?

I certainly noticed Sharon right away and during Israeli dancing, I would try to be paired up with her. She also took my hat during the “hat song.” At the second Rock & Roll Dance, we danced to Don’t You Want Me (by The Human League) together. We were then chosen to work together as Rosheem (heads) for Maccabia (color war). Even though our team, Ochel (Food) lost, we won!

uspr2012What happened between you when camp ended that summer?

We continued dating and got married four years later on June 6, 1985.

Will/did you send your kids to your camp?

We did. All three of our children attended Camp Massad for many years. Our eldest, Samara, was the Menahelet (camp director) for the past two years. Our middle child, Niri, was also on the senior administration. Our youngest, Gilad, is on the senior administration this year.

Marshall Carroll, 50, and Sharon Chisvin, 53, were both born in Winnipeg, Canada and have lived there most of their lives. He is a high school science teacher and sessional university lecturer. He went to Camp Massad from 1972-1984 (excluding 1983 when he volunteered on a Kibbutz). He is currently a lifetime Massad board member and the webmaster for the camp’s website. He is also a songwriter, actor and icebreaker workshop leader as well as Canada’s 4th Smartest Person. Sharon is a journalist, oral historian, and fiction writer. Her published work includes the children’s picture book “The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter” and the social history “Our Musical Heritage: A Century of Jewish Music in Winnipeg.” She attended Camp Massad from 1969-1976, and 1981-1982 and is the past president of the camp’s board of directors.

Posted on March 8, 2013

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Passover, Camp Style

passoverforblogIt’s March and that means Passover is right around the corner!

Want fun crafts to teach your kids about this meaningful and complex holiday?  How about activities to get them excited and involved in your family’s seder?  Or games that get them asking questions?  Download Camp Passover, a camp-themed Passover activity book for kids, here: http://www.jewishcamp.org/camp-passover

 

 

Posted on March 4, 2013

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It’s Purim Time!

purimFJCWe are getting ready to celebrate one of our favorite holidays, Purim, this weekend!  Are you  preparing and need some inspiration, recipes, projects, costume ideas, and books?  Check out the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Purim Pinterest board for help.

FJC not only has boards for holidays but also camp projects at home, recipes, gear, packing ideas, books, movies, and more!

 

 

 

Posted on February 21, 2013

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

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