We can’t deny it – economic circumstances influence the choices we make about leading a Jewish life. If we believe that all children should have the opportunity to explore who they are in a Jewish environment and that enabling them to do so will have a lasting impact on their life and our community, then making Jewish camp more accessible and affordable to more families is of great importance.  At FJC, we are constantly challenging ourselves to find new and innovative ways to make camp more accessible to more children. Whether that is through affordability initiatives, specialty options or including children with disabilities, our mission compels us to get more kids to Jewish camp.

Earlier this year, I introduced you to our new affordability initiative BunkConnect. This online referral program matches low to middle income families with high-quality Jewish camps at rates reduced by 40-60%. This entrepreneurial program – a first of its kind – strives to eliminate the cost barrier for first-time campers and ensures that any family that is looking to engage their child Jewishly can do so through the immersive summers at Jewish camp.

After a very successful pilot in summer 2014, I am excited to let you know that BunkConnect will be offered nationwide in summer 2015!

We have learned important lessons from the 2014 pilot where 105 first-time campers were placed in 27 northeastern camps.  75% of the families confirmed our premise that although they may have had an interest in sending their child to a Jewish camp, they’ve found it out-of-reach financially.  This alternative worked for them! In fact, 90% of our families told us that they would not have sent their child to a Jewish camp without the BunkConnect program.

We have expanded the pilot across the U.S. to reach even more families.  We have more than 75 camps participating from a wide range of movements, denominations, and specialties, and from every part of the United States. This initiative is truly changing how we, as a field of Jewish camp, address affordability and scholarships for camp.

So now that we have this incredible tool which makes finding the perfect camp easy and affordable, can you imagine the enormous opportunity all of us have to engage a greater number of children Jewishly?  Can you imagine the positive impact this will have over time on our community?

Please help us spread the word that camp is no longer out of reach. Make sure your congregation, federation, and personal network know about BunkConnect. Join the campaign.