This week we convened Foundation for Jewish Camp’s (FJC) summer board retreat in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, based in Seattle. These summer retreats allow our leadership to witness the positive impact of our grants and programs that help the field grow and thrive, as well as to learn directly from the field and collect data to inform our future efforts.
Traveling from across North America, our team experienced a packed and meaningful three days learning, listening, and growing together. For many, this was their first time visiting these unique Jewish overnight and day camps, and we were all impressed by the camps’ resilience overcoming the pandemic and inspired by their visions for the future.
One of the secrets of their success has been the generous support of the Samis Foundation, who graciously hosted, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a beautiful reception recognizing FJC, local philanthropic leaders, and the directors and board members from Sephardic Adventure Camp, URJ Camp Kalsman, Stroum JCC Day Camp, and Camp Solomon Schechter. The model of true partnership between the camps, the Federation, and the Samis Foundation sets a shining example for other communities to follow.
We heard from amazingly talented and passionate camp counselors and unit heads at each of the camps. They shared a strong sense of purpose and responsibility to give back, appreciation for the career skills they have developed, and ideas for attracting more of their peers to this work. The camp directors too expressed the fulfillment they get from mentoring these young Jewish leaders while acknowledging the growing complexity of their jobs, the ever-increasing cost of camp, and the need for ongoing development and support for camp professionals at all levels.
These discussions reinforced the importance of FJC’s envisioned new Center for Camp Leadership to bolster the talent pipeline. Throughout our time together, our board and staff further refined and prioritized our field-wide strategic approach to help identify, develop, and retain talented camp leaders. Our professional team will continue to visit camps across our diverse network this summer and gather additional data to inform this important initiative. We will have more to share in the months ahead.
During our time in the Pacific Northwest, we were inspired and recharged observing camp professionals and seasonal staff alike do their holy work. We saw proof – yet again – of what every study confirms: Jewish camp works! It remains the best, most effective way to inspire young people to strengthen Jewish identity, to develop Jewish leadership, and to ensure a more vibrant Jewish future.
May we all continue to enjoy a healthy, secure, and successful summer filled with inspiration.