The month of Elul is a time to reflect on the year past and plan for the New Year. We certainly hope and pray that the conflict between Israel and Hamas is behind us and that the cease-fire will continue to hold. Elul is also a time of transition, a process that prepares us for the High Holy Days.

Since the creation of Foundation for Jewish Camp 15 years ago, we have been privileged to work with highly effective and engaged lay leaders. At this time of transition, Lee Weiss, who served as our board chair with distinction in the last three years, is passing the torch of board leadership to Peter Weidhorn.

Under Lee’s leadership, we have accomplished important milestones; in particular, Lee led the transformation and growth of the board where board members have accepted the responsibility to model a standard of excellence to board governance and implemented term-limits. Long-serving directors have been succeeded by new leaders, adding diversity in gender, age, geography, denomination and professional expertise all who have added renewed vitality and perspective to our work as well as challenged us and helped us advance our impact in the Jewish community. This change in our board governance was not only important for FJC as a growing organization, but also the board felt that FJC must model strong board governance for the 155+ camps that we work with so they too will benefit from strong lay leadership partnerships.

As we reflect on the past and look forward to our future, we welcome Peter as our new board chair. Peter recently led our board strategic assessment of our performance, reviewing key results and learnings, and prioritizing our future opportunities. As a result, we have refreshed our five-year strategic plan, passed in 2011, and renewed our road map for the next five years, which will focus on leadership development, Jewish impact, and field expansion.

Leadership is at the heart of our camps. We know that the top performing camps in our network are the ones who have strong leadership both professional and lay. FJC continues to invest in leadership training programs and work with camps to create opportunities for staff – whether for directors, assistant directors, or up and coming leaders – to find personal connections that consistently strive to further the vision and mission of their camp, because camps who invest in strong leadership have stronger camps that are making an extraordinary impact on their campers.

As we transition into 5775, our advocacy for the power of camp to shape the Jewish future has never been stronger. Jewish camp is one of the most significant tools available to our community to help children explore their Judaism allowing it become something meaningful that will follow them throughout their lives.