Jewish summer camps fuse the activities, friendships, and communal life of traditional camps with the Jewish values, role models and culture our shared heritage. This uniquely immersive experience provides a confidence-building opportunity in which campers experience joy and discovery in a communal Jewish setting. Read on for the top six reasons parents, bubbes, and zaydes everywhere are sending their kids to Jewish camp.
1. Experiences first, explanations later.
Kids are able to ultimately and immediately contribute to their Jewish community at camp. In other realms of Jewish life, they are taught about Jewish communal life and then experience it. At camp, they experience it (at meals, during Shabbat, on the ropes course, in the cabin - everywhere), and the explanations come later. This is a uniquely powerful experience they find nowhere else. Learn more from eJewish Philanthropy.
2. Camp friendships last beyond the summer.
After the dirty laundry has been washed and the camp trunk put away, the friendships endure. Camp is one easy entry point into a lifelong Jewish community. As kids grow, opportunities increase to connect with Jewish peers through congregational and national youth group (including NFTY), Israel travel, social justice programs, and much, much more. Many alumni of Jewish camp have found that the friends they make during the summer stick with them through college, young adulthood, and beyond.
3. Immersive Jewish community, 24/7.
Campers are exposed to adult Jewish role models, Jewish peers, and Jewish friends from different places. These Jewish connections in every direction are extremely powerful. Campers experience joy in a Jewish community, develop self-confidence as Jews, and forge Jewish connections that stay with them into their lives beyond camp. Nowhere else do campers have the opportunity to experience Judaism infused into daily life and reinforced by a community of exclusively Reform Jewish peers.
4. Camp ends, but the Jewish community continues.
Extensive research in recent years has proven that children who attend Jewish summer camp are more likely to identify as Jewish adults and actively engage in the Jewish community. The experience of living in a Jewish community (such as a bunk with their Jewish peers, at camp) has a deep and profound impact on Jewish children, who are more likely to practice Jewish behaviors as adults as a result of attending camp.
5. Jewish camp addresses the whole camper.
Children learn confidence, skill-building and socialization by living in a community. They learn how to manage in a diverse group of peers, and they face new situations and overcome challenges on a daily basis. At Jewish camp, adult role models and mentors create safe spaces for campers to grapple with complex ideas based in Jewish values, texts, and traditions - topics that secular schools and camps might not be able to address. Jewish camp is thus able to provide balance by creating space for spiritual, emotional and physical growth for campers.
6. Camp helps kids succeed beyond childhood.
Camp is all about fun and can be an environment for "real-world" learning. Campers who return to camp as staff members can create opportunities to advance themselves professionally. Many staff from Reform Jewish summer camps have found that their experiences as camp counselors have helped them jumpstart their careers, establish their network on their college campuses and meet new people as they move away from home to settle in new cities after college. Hear from a Jewish summer camp alum about how camp helped her succeed.