Whether camping season has just ended or it's the middle of winter, it's never to early to begin thinking about Jewish summer camp for the young people in your life. Jewish summer camps fuse the activities, friendships, and communal life of traditional camps with Jewish values, role models and culture. 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 areas, they are taught about Jewish communal life before experiencing it. At camp, they experience it first (at meals, during Shabbat, on the ropes course, in the cabin - everywhere); 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 arise to increase their connections with Jewish peers through congregational and national youth groups (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.
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 long-lasting connections. Nowhere else do campers have the opportunity to experience Judaism infused into daily life and reinforced by a community of Reform Jewish peers.
4. Camp ends, but Jewish community continues.
Children who attend Jewish summer camp are more likely to identify as Jewish adults and actively engage with their Jewish community. The experience of living in an immersive Jewish community has a deep and profound impact, making them more likely to practice Jewish behaviors as adults.
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 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. Camp is thus able to provide balance by creating space for spiritual, emotional and physical growth for campers.
6. Camp helps kids succeed.
Camp is all about fun and 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 college campus networks, and meet new people. Hear from a Jewish summer camp alum about how camp helped her succeed.
Want to learn more? Read "9 Reasons I Love Jewish Summer Camp," then use this tool to find the perfect Reform Jewish summer camp for your child.