Nine Things to Love about Jewish Summer Camp

Leah Jacobson

As a camper and counselor, I've learned so much from my time at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute, lovingly known as GUCI, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Zionsville, IN. Here are just a few of the things camp has taught me that make me love being here:

1. Finding a huge Jewish community

Back home, some campers have smaller Jewish communities. Attending Jewish summer camp gives us all the opportunity to know, immediately and from the beginning, that we share the bond of being Jewish.

2. Forging deep and meaningful friendships

At home, it’s all too easy to get caught up in technology, but our summer camps' emphasis on intentionally using technology allows us to create stronger in-person bonds with our camp family.

3. Bonding with clergy

It’s always fun to see the rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators – who are usually all dressed up in nice clothing in “real life” – sporting t-shirts and shorts at camp. They really take their time to get to know us at camp, not only as congregants, but as people.

4. Dancing at Friday night song session

When the whole camp gets together on Shabbat evening, the energy couldn’t be more intense! It makes me smile to know that so many people get excited about praying – sometimes without even realizing it!

5. Conquering my fears

As a camper, I was absolutely terrified of heights. Now, even though I may not love them, I can still get myself to the top of our 65-foot climbing tower, the Migdal.

6. Learning to coexist with others

Living in small spaces with others teaches us how to work together and communicate when there’s a problem. Talk about gaining useful real-world skills!

7. Enjoying that extra something special

Each summer camp is unique, which makes each camp endearing and beloved. My camp, for example, is known for its singing; I love learning to harmonize with friends. It sounds like a professional choir every time our camp comes together!

8. Finding independence

It’s normal for kids to be attached to their parents, but spending time at sleepaway camp teaches them they don’t need their parents every step of the way, every moment of the day.

9. Learning about myself

As a Jewish teen, I learned so many valuable things about myself and others. One of the most important? I don’t believe I would have the same connection to my religion as I do now if it weren’t for my time at Jewish summer camp!

Use this tool to find the right Reform Jewish summer camp for you!