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A First Week of Camp: From an Adult’s Perspective

Posted by Ben Alpert in Camp Connect


By Jessica Rothbart

We have all heard about the power of sending children to Jewish camp. Sadly for our summers as working adults, very few adults get to experience the magic except by reliving the memories. In many cases, parents have not had the experience of Jewish camp themselves. Some camps offer family camp, where the entire family gets to join, but it is often outside of the timeline of the typical camp sessions.

This first-person account chronicles a Chicago rabbi as he attends camp, in full swing, for a week. And not just any week, but his very first of Jewish summer camp – EVER. He offers a unique perspective on being a staff member and first time experiences. Spoiler alert: whether you’ve been to camp or not, you may end up daydreaming about camp after you read it. Click here to read the full post.


Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
Posted by Ben Alpert in Camp Connect


By Anna Marx

This post is 2nd in a series on Accomplishments and Lessons Learned, a cumulative report demonstrating 5 years of evaluation and research about the Coalition of Innovating Congregations. The report is available online and for download at innovatingcongregations.org/all.

We hear a lot about the lifelong impact Jewish overnight camp has on our children. All things being equal, we’d like all of our kids to go to camp. But many of us struggle to recruit greater numbers of families to choose Jewish overnight camp. In order to learn more, we sent surveys to all parents in our Camp Connect congregations to learn about their decisions around camp (read the full report innovatingcongregations.org/resources/camp-connect/).

One thing rang true and clear from the surveys: Relationships Matter. It’s about the kids’ relationships and the parents’ relationships. Many of the parents that responded to the survey reported that it was important that their kids had friends or relatives to go to camp with. Parents also said that they highly valued camp recommendations from their friends.

So can the congregation have an impact if it’s about the families’ relationships? Yes! Congregations can build relationships among children and their parents at young ages so that when they are ready to go away to camp, they can go as a familiar group. Congregations can also pay close attention to relationships that exist and emerge among parents. By targeting groups of friends, congregations can more effectively recruit for camp, instead of one by one.

Look out for the next post in this series: “Second-Tier Leadership.”


Think Jewish Camp is out of reach this summer? Think again.

Posted by Ben Alpert in Camp Connect


Every child should have the opportunity to experience the magic of summer camp. After all, summer at overnight camp is the adventure of a lifetime.  It’s where kids discover who they really are, build connections and create memories they’ll hold onto for their entire lives. And, it also happens be a whole lot of fun.

But finding the right camp for your child isn’t always easy—and affording that perfect summer can be difficult too.  Foundation for Jewish Camp offers several opportunities and tools to ensure that every child in our community has access to an unforgettable Jewish summer experience.  There’s a camp out there to match both your child’s interests and your family’s budget.

BUNKCONNECT is the newest, easiest way for qualified families to find great summer experiences at over 40 overnight camps offering special introductory rates (40-80% off!!!)  To find out more about BunkConnect and search for the right Jewish camp for your child, visit BunkConnect.org.

Alternatively, One Happy Camper (OHC) offers need-blind grants of up to $1000 for children attending nonprofit, Jewish overnight camp for the first time.  One Happy Camper is run in partnership with local Jewish organizations – such as Jewish federations, foundations, individual camps, and The PJ Library.  These partners provide support and a local perspective to help you find the right camp for your child.  Visit OneHappyCamper.org to find your local OHC partner and apply for a grant.

Now that camp is within reach, finding a camp where your child will be comfortable – no matter your practice – is easy using FJC’s Find-A-Camp tool with over 155 camps to choose from, ranging from traditional sleepaway camps to specialty camps.  Discover the perfect summer camp experience for your child at JewishCamp.org/FindACamp.

Summer is less than 100 days away!  Will your child be One Happy Camper?

Happy camping!

The Problem with Loyalty to Just Movement Camps

The Problem with Loyalty to Just Movement Camps
Posted by Ben Alpert in Camp Connect


By Rabbi Michael Mellen

I’m a Reform Movement kid, staff person, and rabbi all the way. My son went to pre-school at a Reform synagogue and I hope my daughter will do the same.  My son attends Hebrew school at a Reform synagogue.  I love the URJ camps and will likely send my kids to a URJ camp. I believe in the camps, the camp directors, and the experience that campers and staff have during the summer.  I want to spend time at URJ camps during the summer and have as faculty and as staff.  I was the Director of NFTY and the Director of URJ Youth ProgramsI’m in. 

And… I’m not.  I also love Camp Tamarack in Michigan, where I was staff for seven summers. My cousins love Camp Pinemere in Pennsylvania. I’ve talked with the Directors, staff and campers of Young Judaea camps, Habonim D’ror camps, B’nai B’rith Perlman, Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, Louemma, Ramah, and many more.  Each creates magical, immersive, life deepening experiences.  Campers talk about their friends for life, the values of the camps, and the fun they have at sports, arts and crafts, with technology, music and games.  They often point to spiritual moments around Friday evenings or Havdallah as the memories they carry most strongly. 

However, the problem with loyalty to just movement camps isn’t simply that other wonderful camps exist.  The problem is that as long as we recruit for only movement camps, we are out of the summer camp conversation. Congregants, community members, already know our answer. We can promote and promote and promote, but it’s one-sided. It works to some degree, but leaves somewhere between 75% and 100% of congregants out of the conversation, depending on your success.  I want to be in and not at the same time.

When congregations recruit for multiple camps, including camps beyond movement camps, they are in the conversation again.  While a smaller percentage of those you speak with may go to your movement camp, two other things happen: 1. More kids end up at some Jewish overnight summer camp; and 2. While a smaller percentage of those you speak with may go to your movement camp, you’ll be speaking with more potential campers and parents.  More children will end up attending the camp who maintains your loyalty.

It’s not about loyalty after-all.  It’s about reengaging in the conversation.  Having a voice.

If you’re interested in learning more, please be in touchYou can make this powerful change and stay loyal at the same time.


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