The Canteen is a tribute to all things Jewish sleepaway camp. Hosted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), this blog is written by campers, alumni, parents, and camp professionals and is a place to talk about parenting, camp fun, projects, crafts, recipes, and more – all tied back to Jewish holidays, traditions and, of course, camp!
Dylan is 10 years old. He just returned home from eight weeks at Jewish camp. He initially signed up for four weeks, and after “tasting the bug juice” he begged his parents to stay for an extra month. This was his first summer away from home. Dylan has officially found his summer home.
Over the course of the summer, Dylan’s division head at camp sent an email to parents updating them on the magic happening at camp. The following is an excerpt from one of the letters:
“This week, I was giving a tour to some prospective families. We made our way over to the climbing tower where two bunks were gearing up. One camper was already on the most challenging face of the wall with a counselor climbing beside and below him. As this boy reached higher and higher, his bunkmates down below began chanting his name over and over. They grew more and more excited as their friend continued upward. When he made it to the top, all the boys cheered and jumped and hugged each other. One of our campers turned to an adult on the tour and said, in a matter of fact tone, ‘He’s blind, you know.’ When this camper reached the top of the tower today he could not look out over the field, nor see how high he had climbed. But he could hear the cheers and yells of other boys who love him. I cannot express how thankful I am for the opportunity to share that moment with your sons.”
Dylan is one of more than 130 campers who received a One Happy Camper incentive grant this past summer from the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey to attend Jewish camp for the first time. These campers are returning home transformed by the magic that happens at Jewish camp. No, they are not illusionists or pulling rabbits out of top hats – although they may know a few card tricks! The magic is the transformation they have undergone into more independent, happy, passionate Jewish children with a summer’s worth of great memories and friendships to cherish. They have accomplished new challenges, overcome new obstacles, learned new life skills, and grew their confidence leaps and bounds. They have also further developed their Jewish identities. They’ve experienced the magic of Jewish camp.
The experiences Dylan had at Jewish camp this past summer are unparalleled. There were no obstacles in his way this summer. His Jewish camp made that possible. Camp (or, the world, if you ask any camper) was his “kosher” oyster. These experiences can be a reality for you and your family. Let’s work together to ensure your child experiences the magic, too.