The summer activity market for children is certainly a competitive one. There are seemingly endless opportunities available for children today. A child can spend their summer building their soccer skills or enhancing their gymnastic abilities; they can spend a week at a performing arts camp and the next week in a science-intensive at a local college.

Given what we know about the lasting impact of a Jewish summer experience, how do we help parents make the choice to send their children to Jewish camp?

In an effort to do just that, Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) — with the help of an incredibly thoughtful and generous funder — created the One Happy Camper® (OHC) program. With the singular mission to increase the number of children attending Jewish camp, OHC provides first-time campers with a need-blind incentive grant of up to $1,000.

This year, we celebrate 10 years of the OHC program. To date, more than 64,000 OHC grants have been distributed (including JWest grants sponsored by the Jim Joseph Foundation) and by the end of summer 2016, we anticipate that number will reach 70,000!   

Of course, none of this would be possible without our local federation, foundation, and camp partners who have been matching FJC’s seed investment. Currently, we have 41 community partners (including the Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Goes to Camp), 21 of which are self-funding and five that have or are working to endow their camping initiative.

Our anonymous donor often remarks, “OHC is the single best investment I’ve ever made.” And we know it works. More than 85% of recipients report that they considered an array of mostly secular alternatives before receiving the grant, including 30% who would have simply stayed home. And we get a return on our investment with over 80% of grant recipients going back to camp for a second summer and over 90% of them for a third!

Over the years, OHC has become a platform for our partners to deepen and diversify their commitment to Jewish camp. Not only are they driving more children to attend, they are also partnering with area camps to build their local community by engaging families beyond the summer.

What’s next for One Happy Camper as we celebrate ten years? Naturally, more happy campers!

Our goal is to continue to give more children the opportunity to experience the magic of Jewish camp. With the support of generous funders, FJC will continue to grow the OHC program for years to come!