As we approach Thanksgiving in this extraordinary year, I offer my extreme gratitude to the entire camp community for our collective efforts these past nine difficult months. Camp professionals navigated the implications of not opening and/or operating with significant constraints, and worked hard building community virtually before, during, and after the season. Camp families generously donated tuition or confidently rolled it over for next summer. Camp funders, foundations, and federations – locally, regionally, and nationally – provided much needed emergency funding to ensure sustainability. Working together, these amazing efforts truly saved the field of Jewish camp in 2020!
While we still have much work to do to prepare for a safe, successful summer 2021 – both operationally and financially (more details to come in future months), I am confident that we will come together once again to collectively mitigate the significant challenges ahead.
We also express gratitude for the field’s continued spirit of innovation and experimentation. I am proud to share progress on two forward-thinking initiatives geared to the long-term success and vibrancy of camp to effectively increase year-round and lifelong Jewish engagement:
- Through the generosity of Maimonides Fund, we selected seven camps to develop new Family Camp offerings to provide meaningful and exciting Jewish experiences for families with young kids. FJC will provide a variety of resources including training, capital and staff-capacity funding, and family subsidies with the goal that camps will be able to sustain these Family Camps beyond the initial start-up period. Be on the lookout for a Family Camp near you in 2022 hosted at one of these locations:
- Camp Laurelwood, Connecticut
- Camp Mountain Chai, California
- Camp Zeke, Pennsylvania
- Camp Tawonga, California
- Tiyul Adventure Camp, Maryland
- URJ Greene Family Camp, Texas
- URJ Camp OSRUI, Wisconsin
- Building on the success of our initial pilot, we have invited five camps to join a new, expanded cohort of The Competitive Edge, thanks to the generous support of The Gottesman Fund (NY/DC). Through Competitive Edge, camps will receive funding and training from FJC to launch intensive specialty tracks (think of a “camp within a camp”) in 2022, enabling them to successfully attract and retain new campers who may otherwise pursue secular summer experiences. The selected camps will provide high-level skill building in the following areas:
- Camp Ramah in Canada, Ontario (Outdoor Leadership)
- Camp Ramah Galim, Northern California (Biking)
- JCC Camp Chi, Wisconsin (Outdoor Adventure)
- URJ Camp Coleman, Georgia (Adventure Sports)
- Camp Moshava Wild Rose, Wisconsin (Culinary Arts)
Despite the challenges we continue to face, we have so much for which to be thankful. With our collective efforts, we will move forward to create stronger, more vibrant Jewish camps to serve even more children, teens, young adults, and families in our post-pandemic future.