As we prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I am proud to share that the field of Jewish camp enters 5776 stronger than ever!

At a time when some areas of our Jewish community are contracting, the field of Jewish camp is growing, which is testament to the vibrancy and impact of Jewish camp on our community. To sustain this growth, camps must expand and improve existing facilities to serve the increased numbers of campers and remain competitive in today’s marketplace.

To help camps implement their capital plans more quickly, Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has started a newly revised interest-free building loan program, made possible by the Maimonides Fund. This program will support camps’ renovation and construction projects that expand camper capacity as well as upgrades to existing accommodations or facilities.

Day and overnight camps are building larger dining halls and additional bunks to increase the number of campers they can accommodate at one time and keep up with demand. Several camps are expanding and improving their teen villages to help retain more teens in leadership training programs.   Other camps are using this opportunity to update their athletic facilities in order to bolster their sports offerings and allow campers to improve their skills over the summer.  We also have several camps adding retreat facilities in order to host programs throughout the year, including family camps.

We have already received applications from 25 camps with eligible projects representing more than $50 million in capital projects!  Many of these camps have received challenge grants from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation as part of the strategic planning efforts of its JCamp180 initiative.  These capital improvements will allow camps to serve more children, teens, and young adults with improved programs and in better facilities.

I hope you share my optimism as we enter 5776, a year of growth and expansion for the field of Jewish camp.