Finding the “right” present for our teenagers seems increasingly challenging (and expensive) these days! While my wife and I keep reminding our children that Chanukah is less about the gifts and more about “the candles”, they keep hoping for a cool gadget or a new article of clothing.

Last night, however, we gave our kids their camp yearbooks, which had just arrived in the mail. As they flipped through the pages and became nostalgic about their happy memories from camp, we knew that we had already given them the best gift possible, a gift that lasts a lifetime, their summers at Jewish camp!

Giving the gift of Jewish camp to more children has been the focus of Foundation for Jewish Camp. We owe a tremendous amount of thanks to all those who have joined us in this effort. Together, we are making a difference, now and for the future, by strengthening the professionals who dedicate themselves to this field, and partnering with philanthropists, foundations, and federations to truly build a more vibrant Jewish community.

I recently attended a historic evening for Jewish camp where Paula and Jerry Gottesman of Metrowest, NJ announced a $5 million endowment gift to the NJY Camps, earmarked for scholarships and given in honor of long-time director, Len Robinson. This incredible gift to one of our largest camping entities will certainly help ensure that many more children continue to attend Jewish camp. This is but one example of the kind of momentum we are witnessing in support of the field.

A summer of Jewish camp is transformative for a child because of the many gifts that camps naturally provide. Campers return home with new skills, new role models, new confidence, and a new perspective on Judaism.

As we gaze upon our Chanukiya, may it remind us to invest in spreading the light and joy of Judaism today and for generations to come. As my kids proved to us last evening, giving the gift of camp is truly the best gift possible; those summer experiences which have shaped them will remain with them throughout their lives.