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Archive for July, 2012

The Olympic Games: Learning Lessons at Camp

The original version of this post appeared in eJewish Philanthropy:

All across North America thousands of Jewish children are having fun, growing and building community at camp this summer. What would this experience be without Color War, Maccabiah, Yom Sport, Olympics? While Judaism can be rather heady and intellectual, this rite of summer brings Jewish life down to a more basic level. Being Jewish is not just something that happens between our ears, it is also manifest in our bodies. We wear our team colors, stay up all hours being creative, use skills we never knew we had, push ourselves individually and as teams, practice being leaders, and scream our chants the loudest. And we do all of this in an effort of being crowned the winners. While these games have their challenges, they help us see our peers in the state of nature. We play out dynamics in our smaller intergenerational camp team only to try to put these pieces back together the next day. We are only winners if there is a larger body to hold the tradition. There is a certain authenticity of human interaction when we see our peers in such extreme situations. In these Olympics we cannot just present our public persona; we see each other expressing a full spectrum of emotions (but only one color). Relationships forged in this holistic environment seem real and will last the tests of time. In these Olympics our youth learn teamwork, leadership, and how to compete all in the context of embodying a healthy community.

This evening is the opening of the 2012 Olympics Games in London. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the “Munich Massacre” in which 11 Israeli Olympic competitors were killed by Palestinian gunmen who stormed into the athletes’ apartment and took them hostage. It is a shame that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refuses to officially memorialize these martyred athletes. The IOC has fiercely resisted any attempt to officially commemorate the Munich Massacre during the Games itself, arguing that doing so would politicize what is meant to be an apolitical competition. It seems that their choice to not do anything is actually politicizing the competition.

The day after the death of the Israeli athletes Golda Meir, then Prime Minister of Israel, received the following message:

Dear Madame Prime Minister:

The heart of America goes out to you, to the bereaved families and to the Israeli people in the tragedy that has struck your Olympic athletes. This tragic and senseless act is a perversion of all the hopes and aspirations of mankind which the Olympic games symbolize. In a larger sense, it is a tragedy for all the peoples and nations of the world. We mourn with you the deaths of your innocent and brave athletes, and we share with you the determination that the spirit of brotherhood and peace they represented shall in the end persevere.

Sincerely,

RICHARD NIXON

They were not just athletes, they were Jewish athletes. For the first time since World War II Jews were returning to German ground to compete on the world stage. We had been disembodied by the Holocaust and reborn in the State of Israel. It has been 40 years and we still mourn the death of our family members.

Last week I had the fortune of visiting Golden Slipper Camp in Pennsylvania. By their lake I saw the plaque pictured above, which reads:

OLYMPIAN LAKE

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE ELEVEN ISRAELIS
VICTIMS OF ARAB TERRORISTS, AT THE
OLYMPIC GAMES IN MUNICH, GERMANY
ON SEPTEMBER 5TH, 1972 – 26 ELUL5732
DAVID BERGER ELIEZER HALFIN KEHAT SCHORR
ZEEV FRIEDMAN YOSEF ROMANO MARK SLAVIN
YOSEF GUTFREUND AMITZUR SHAPIRAYACOV SPRINGER
ANDRE SPITZER MOSHE WEINBERG

DEDICATED BY MRS. RICHARD M. NIXON
OCTOBER 25th, 1972

Amidst all of the colored paint, banners, and chants of our mini Olympics at camp we take a moment to remember the fallen athletes of the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Nixons had it right. It is a tragedy for all the peoples and nations of the world and also our people. We mourn the martyrs and lift our heads up as proud embodied Jews.

–Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow is the Director of Jewish Education at the Foundation for Jewish Camp

Jewish Camp in the News

There has been so much talk about Jewish camp lately!  We’ll be providing a round-up each week – here are some recent features to kick off:

- New York Times: “Jewish Camps Spawn a U.S. Playground Hit

- Blog. RabbiJason.com: “Masei – Jewish Summer Camp

- RJ.org: “Shhh… Don’t Tell… Camp’s My Favorite Part of My Job!

- eJewish Philanthropy: “A View to the Past with an Eye to the Future: The Reform Movement Celebrates 60 Years of Camping

- InterfaithFamily.com: “Jew Camp

- JewishJournal.com: “Camp Newman Generates Jewish Joy

- The Jewish Week: “What the Doctor Ordered: Shabbat at Camp Ramah

- RJ.org: “Nadiv: Sharing the Best of School and Camp” (written by Abby and Ramie Arian!)

- eJewish Philanthropy: “Foundation for Jewish Camp and Matisyahu Collaborate

- NJ Jewish News: “Matisyahu previews new music at NJY Camps

- HuffPost Parents: “Summer Camp: Tales Of A Grown-Up Sleepaway Camp Kid

- RJ.org: “I Fell in Love with Judaism at Camp

 Check out these articles on camp too:

- Time Ideas: “Summer Camp: Can It Make Kids More Responsible?”  

- Time Healthland: “How ‘Kidsick’ Parents Stay Connected (Obsessively) with Their Kids in Summer Camp

- Sun Sentinel: “Parents Obsess Over Kid Pics at Sleepaway Camp” 

- HuffPost Parents: “The Dark Side of Looking at Camp Pictures Online

JCC Camp Chi’s Associate Director, Brad Finkel, has been named one of Oy!Chicago and YLD’s Double Chai in the Chi!

If you haven’t seen the awesome Matisyahu concert and Q&A from last week, you can watch it on our website (through a link on the homepage).

How is Nature Jewish at Camp?

At Pinemere Camp we want the fact that we are a Jewish camp to mean a lot more than that we have services on Friday night and Saturday mornings and keep a Kosher kitchen.  We aspire to incorporate Jewish values, Jewish teachings, and Hebrew language into all of our activities – whether it’s by referring to the lake in Hebrew as the “agam” and the pool as the “breicha,” by learning about Rosh HaShanah while baking apple cakes and honey cakes, or by incorporating the values of “shalom bayit” (peace in the home – and by extension, the camp bunk) into our bunk activities.

In our outdoor nature program, campers learn from Stacy Grossfeld, our nature specialist, about the Jewish value of being “shomrei adamah” – keepers of the earth.  As they learn how to grow and tend to plants, the campers learn that we have to take care of the plants, just as they take care of us.

Campers are actively involved with Stacy in beautifying our camp community.  Every Friday a different bunk works with her to create flower arrangements which decorate our camp Shabbat tables.  Stacy explains to the campers that unlike the busy days of the rest of our week, Shabbat is a time for relaxation and a time to appreciate the beauty of creation and the natural world around us.  Our campers learn that by creating special Shabbat flower arrangements, they are taking part in the Jewish act of “hiddur mitzvah” – they are beautifying that which is sacred in their lives.  Campers also pick and learn about spices that are used as the “b’samim” (spices) in our Havdalah service which we all celebrate together at the end of Shabbat.

Campers have fun in nature while they learn about Judaism!  And as with much good informal education, they are often having so much fun that they do not even realize how much they are learning.

–Rabbi Robyn Frisch, Jewish Program Supervisor, Pinemere Camp


Another Happy Camper

One thing that makes Jewish camp, well, Jewish is the happy campers that take home a stronger Jewish identity.  Everyone at the FJC offices smiled with pride today when we received this note:

My son, Noah, returned from camp at JCA Shalom. He is a One Happy Camper recipient. He LOVED it! He was nervous about going since he’d never been there and didn’t  know anyone but the staff quickly put him at ease and he bonded with his cabin mates. We enjoyed seeing the daily pictures of him on the camp website where we could see for ourselves that he was having a wonderful time. He is now connected to friends all over the west coast and he enjoyed meeting counselors from Israel. He said that he learned more Hebrew, the Birkat HaMazon and enjoyed celebrating Shabbat with everyone. He also said that he looks forward to returning.

The experience did many things for him- improved his confidence in being able to be on his own away from home with all new people;  built his self-esteem as he tried and succeeded at so many new things; connecting him with Jewish peers; and strengthening his  Jewish identity. All of this in just 12 days!

We cannot thank the Foundation enough for making it possible for Noah to attend a  Jewish sleepaway camp.  With three older siblings in college we could not have afforded to send him without this support. We look forward to someday being able to return the favor. Please extend our gratitude to all who are involved with this wonderful program.

Regards,

The Fischer Family

Nadiv: Sharing the Best of School and Camp

The following post originally appeared on RJ.org.

“Camp changes lives, from the cabin to the dining hall, and every inch of grass and gravel in between,” wrote Sara Beth Berman, in her application to become a Nadiv educator.

What is Nadiv? Nadiv is an exciting pilot program the Foundation for Jewish Camp has just launched which is building partnerships between Jewish schools and nonprofit Jewish overnight camps in six communities across the United States. Conceived in collaboration with the Union for Reform Judaism and with funding from The AVI CHAI Foundation and The Jim Joseph Foundation, Nadiv is placing full-time, year-round Jewish educators in several regions, a pioneering effort to create a new kind of position for qualified Jewish educators. Sara Beth was chosen to work at both The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA and URJ Camp Coleman in Cleveland, GA, beginning this summer.

The Nadiv educators have taken up their posts over the last few weeks, and their first major assignments are to direct the education programs of their respective summer camps, including two URJ camps other than Coleman: URJ Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, MA, and URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA. Throughout the course of the summer, they will communicate regularly with the heads of the schools where they will be working in the fall. Once school starts, they will serve as Judaic resources, experts in experiential education, and in some cases, classroom teachers with a focus on Jewish text. At the same time, they will devote attention to planning and organizing educational programs for their respective camps for the following summer.

Sara Beth is just one in a remarkable and promising group of young educators that has been recruited for these new positions. Each brings deep leadership experience in Jewish camps, significant teaching experience in a variety of school settings, and advanced training in Jewish education. One element of the program that is particularly exciting for these educators is the creation of a community of practice that will enable the six professionals to share concerns, problems and solutions with one another, so that they can garner strength and support from each other as they move through their programs in parallel.

Nadiv represents a unique partnership for the sake of creating a pioneering innovation in Jewish education. In the coming months, we look forward to seeing if…

…it is possible to marry the best of school-based with the best of camp-based education.
…this program is a successful platform for creating careers for talented educators that will be challenging and energizing, and will not simply “burn out” educators from overwork.
…sharing an employee will help institutions build a strong partnership marked by organizational synergies that will elevate a community. Or will normal institutional concerns over turf undermine an otherwise promising partnership?
…building a community around common practices helps professionals to overcome challenges when facing difficult circumstances.
…sharing an educator across two institutions will serve to promote recruitment of campers to the school and recruitment of students to the camp.

For more on the program, including a list of partnerships, please click here.

–Ramie Arian is a consultant who specializes in project management and in research in programs related to Jewish experiential education. He serves as Program Manager for Nadiv. Abby Knopp is the Vice President, Program and Strategy at the Foundation for Jewish Camp.

Hello from Judaica!

Judaica at Camp Seneca Lake (CSL) is so much more than Shabbat!  As much as possible we strive to organically infuse Judaica into all aspects of camp life.  For example, during staff orientation the staff had the opportunity to play “Middot-opoly,” a take-off on Monopoly based on “middot” or “virtues” developed at the JCC of Greater Rochester.  Instead of buying properties staff had the opportunity to purchase virtues or values that one could do any day, such as taking care of one’s body, and caring for animals.  Everyone had a great time bonding and playing the game, while learning about core Jewish values.  Staff will be reminded throughout the summer to look for opportunities to infuse the teaching of these values into daily camp life, creating “Jewish teachable moments.”

Judaica is also coming to the Craft Shack!  We are thrilled to welcome visiting artist Nancy Gong later this summer, an incredibly talented Rochester-based glass artist with a special connection to CSL.  Nancy will be leading our first “Hiddur Mitzvah” project, based on this mitzvah to beautify Jewish ritual objects.

We also have five great Cornerstone Fellows!  This past May these five counselors spent a full week with me at the Foundation for Jewish Camp Cornerstone Fellowship learning about Jewish leadership and exploring ways they could personally give back to CSL in a way that enhances and expands the Judaica program.  More info to come as these amazing initiatives continue to unfold.

Shavua Tov!

–Joy Getnick, Judaic Educator, Camp Seneca Lake

Mah Tovu: How Good are our Camps

The following is a sermon given by Rabbi Ilana G. Baden of Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, OH on July 6, 2012

Many sources for our prayers in our prayer books.  One of them: the Torah itself.  Several examples: Sh’ma, V’ahavta, Mi Chamocha, are the big ones.  One other: Mah Tovu.  Traditionally sung in the morning – in fact, we will sing it tomorrow at services!

This week we learn of how the lyrics of Mah Tovu came about.  Enemy king Balak commissioned Bilam (non-Israelite prophet) to set out and look upon the Israelite encampment and pronounce a curse over it.  In the end, he ended up not cursing Israel, but blessing it with these words: Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishk’notecha Yisrael.  How good are your tents, O Jacob; your dwelling places, O Israel.

In the context of our Torah portion, we see that these words are to be taken quite literally–for Bilam was looking straight at the tents and dwelling places that our ancestors had established during their wandering toward the Promised Land.  Makes sense.  But how are we to take these words in the context of our modern liturgy?  The ancient rabbis worried about this – after all, when the liturgy was developed, the Israelites had outgrown their temporary tents and dwelling places of the dessert. Therefore, the sages deemed that when we hear ohalecha (tents) and mishk’notecha (dwelling places), we are to associate the words with the Places of Worship and Places of Study – institutions that are more contemporary.

Well, as I reflect on these interpretations of our Torah verse at this season in particular, I realize that we no longer have to choose between the two readings.  For today, we have in our culture something that embodies both tents and dwelling places, as well as Places of Worship and Places of Study – and that is: Jewish overnight camp.  How many of you went to camp?

My first experience with Jewish overnight camp came when I was entering junior high school.  After years of attending day camp, I was quite surprised to learn that my parents had signed me up for a summer in Wisconsin.  When I asked them why I could not just stay home again that summer, my mother simply replied, “All year long you go to school and spend time with your very nice non-Jewish friends.  We’re happy for this.  However, during the summer, you need to live Jewish.”  And with that, we started the ritualistic shopping spree for camp supplies.  Even though that first summer was a bit tough, I found myself drawn to the camp experience and went back summer after summer after summer – all the way up to rabbinical school.  I loved being a camper, counselor, and unit head – and I even had fun during my Avodah year (which is the Hebrew word for “service”), the year when we high school seniors spent our morning studying Torah and our afternoons plunging toilets.

And now I am a rabbi, and as such, I had the honor of playing a variation of Bilam – I was commissioned to set out and look upon the Israelite encampment: URJ GUCI – and let me tell you: Mah Tovu!  How good it is!

We all know intrinsically that Jewish camping is good for so many reasons.  For one thing, it does, as my mother said, teach kids how to be Jewish.  Especially if you go to a URJ camp – one of the camps associated with our movements, like GUCI is.  For the kids literally eat, breathe, and sleep Judaism.  Whether it is by starting every day with Jewish prayers and songs at “roll call,” beginning and concluding each and every meal with the traditional Hebrew blessings, studying Jewish values, such as Partnering with God, during the informal educational programs, enjoying a service led by various camper groups before evening programs, or singing the Sh’ma with their counselors before going to bed – Judaism is part of the very fabric of the summer experience.

Another reason that camp is good is that provides our kids with life-long friendships.  Ask any kid – camp friends are different than school friends.  Perhaps this is because in addition to the strong Jewish identity it builds, camp also helps kids get in touch with who they really are.  Earlier this summer, I had a conversation with one girl in which she told me her theory on why camp friendships seem so much more real than they do at home.  She explained: “At home, you’re constantly thinking about what you should wear and say, and how you should act in order to fit in.  It’s kind of like you’re putting on a show.  At camp, you’re with these people 24/7 – and it is just too exhausting to put that much effort into how you carry yourself all day and night.  So you kind of have to give up and just be who you are.  When everyone around you does that, too, then you really get to know each other in a much more real way.”

And one other reason that I love camp for our kids is that it helps them become independent in a relatively sheltered environment.  With the counsel of their young adult counselors (and with some supervision from the adult faculty), kids learn to navigate their way over a series of weeks in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment.

Yes – camp is good for kids.  But more than this, camp is good for the Jews, too.

Recently, I came across a study (Foundation for Jewish Camp’s “Camp Works”) that touted the benefits of camp to our community.  It stated that Jewish camp leads to vibrant Jewish professionals and lay leaders.  One out of every three rabbis, cantor, or educator, and seven out of every ten young Jewish leader in their 20’s and 30’s, grew up at camp.  Jewish camp also leads to active Jewish life.  Adults who attended Jewish camp when they were younger were 37% more likely to celebrate Shabbat, 55% more likely to feel an emotional connection to Israel, and my favorite – 45% more likely to attend their synagogue or temple on a monthly basis.  Hooray camp!

In addition, camp impacts directly on our congregational life.  Many of the innovations of our modern service hearkens from camping experiences.  For example, the insertion of the mothers in the Avot and Imahot was largely due to a generation of kids who went to Jewish camp and were exposed to this inclusive liturgy and then brought it back home, insisting that their rabbis catch up with the times.

Furthermore, a great deal of our modern music is music that has been produced at camp or spread by camp.  One of the highlights of my time at GUCI was getting to know singer/songwriter Dan Nichols better.  He has written many songs that our congregation enjoys, and I am so excited that—due to the generosity of our Brotherhood and Sisterhood—will be joining us in November for a very special musical Shabbat.

And one more way that camp has a direct effect on our Temple: our kids who go for the summer eventually come home, and their enthusiasm and energy and passion for Judaism is contagious.  Now, even though I played Bilam, I am no prophet – but if I were a betting woman, I would bet anything that in the next few weeks, you will start seeing a few young people at services who had the pleasure of being at camp this summer.  When you do see them, I invite and encourage you to ask them how their summer was and, if you really want a treat, ask them to share something special that they learned or experienced while at camp.  For in hearing their story, I can guarantee you that you will have the same reaction that I have had:

Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishk’notecha Yisrael.  How good are our camps, O Israel!  And how blessed we are as a community to be able to benefit from them.

What else makes Jewish camp Jewish?

The 10 Commitments

I’m often asked what makes the Cohen Camps “Jewish” and how we differentiate our camps from other Jewish camps. There is no simple, quick answer – it’s more than just being Kosher, observing Shabbat, and reciting blessings before and after meals.  We have a set of values that underlies the type of Jewish community we create at all three of our camps.  We have been using these values recently as part of an organizational-wide effort to explore new ways to enhance the way Jewish elements are integrated into camp life, make Jewish learning more experiential, and get staff and campers more involved in the Jewish pieces of the camp experience.

At the Cohen Camps we seek to nurture in our campers and staff a love of being Jewish and an ongoing desire to be involved in and to contribute to Jewish life.  We view Judaism not just as a rich heritage but as a powerful tool for personal growth – a set of values and practices which helps build one’s character, mind, and spirit, which helps each individual, in their own unique way, understand themselves and the world around them.  A strong Jewish identity grounds young people, contributes to their confidence and sense of self-worth, and informs the choices they make.

We view Jewish community as joyful, dynamic, and creative.  Positive Jewish values infuse everything we do as a community – from the dining hall to the cabins to the playing fields.

We embrace Jewish community as a wonderfully colorful mosaic which supports a range of beliefs and practices around a common core of values and commitments.  We honor each camper’s unique place in the community, and support their personal exploration of their Jewishness as we cultivate their feeling part of something larger and enduring.  We do not tell campers how to be Jewish; we empower them to discover that for themselves.

We understand Jewish life as an ongoing process: we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, draw from the wisdom and experience we’ve inherited, and try to create a world of Jewish meaning we’re proud to pass on to the next generations.

We view Jewish life as deeply connected to the broader world – with an ultimate aim of helping to improve and perfect the world.

In the spirit of Sinai here are “The Ten Commitments” of the Cohen Camps – how Jewish purpose is expressed in the fabric of camp life. In additional posts, I’ll explain more what we do and how we incorporate these ideas in our camps.

1. Friendship and teamwork (חברות).
2. Diversity and inclusiveness (קהילה).
3. Shabbat (שבת).
4. Learning (לימוד).
5. Rituals (מסורת).
6. Service and responsibility (תקון).
7. Roots (שורשים).
8. Israel (ישראל).
9. Nature (טבע).
10. Leadership (מנהיגות).

What makes Jewish camp, well, Jewish?

What makes Jewish camp, well, Jewish?

As professionals at FJC, we get asked this questions all the time. And surprisingly, there is not an easy answer. Each Jewish camp is “Jewish” in its own way. Yes, at most there are services. Some once a week to celebrate Shabbat, some every day. Most camps have Israeli staff to help infuse learning about Israel in to the camp.  Being a Jewish camp goes far beyond calling the dining hall the Chadar Ochel and making a Star of David out of popsicle sticks.  It is about the ruach (spirit) the campers exude or the kavanagh (intention) behind the programming.

Jewish camp is camp with a soul. We asked a few camps to give us some insight into how they infuse Judaism and make it part of camp.  Here’s the first post…

Swimming – A Lesson in Judaism and Independence

When we think about the skills we need to be successful in life, swimming doesn’t make most of our top 10 lists.  Here at Camp Interlaken, on the shores of beautiful Lake Finley (pictured), our campers get to choose their own chugim (activities).  Over the course of the day, they attend five different chug periods, one of which is a mandatory swim chug.  Of the almost 50 different activities that we offer here at camp, why do we require swimming of our campers?

According to the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a), a parent must teach their child:

1)      Torah

2)      A profession

3)      To swim

Why, in Judaism, do we put swimming on such a high pedestal? In my opinion, there are two focal reasons for swimming: safety and independence.

At the time of the Babylonian Talmud, swimming was likely being taught as a survival skill.  Many of the daily chores required accessing a body of water.  For the safety of the children, it was necessary to teach them how to properly swim to take care of themselves.  Today, we send our kids sailing and surfing, water-skiing and windsurfing, on canoe and kayak trips, and more.  Each of these activities has a level of associated risk, for which we prepare our campers.  We build swimming skills and confidence that allows for participation in many different areas.  Much like in the time of the Talmud, we are diligent in preparing our campers for their daily schedules of activities.

For some campers, the first risk that they are taking is when they jump in the pool/lake for swim testing on the first day of camp.  We start our campers’ summers by emphasizing the importance of swimming.  In teaching the children to swim, they also learn a great deal of independence; a value we rank very highly at camp.  They are learning to take care of themselves, react properly in case of danger, apply their skills to other areas and grow confidence.   Additionally, they receive additional rights as campers when they hit certain milestones such as the ability to take a boat out on their own, or participate in the other activities.

We pride ourselves in the ability to teach and grow our campers.  At the beginning of each summer, we tell parents that we hope to return their child to them as better version of themselves.  Teaching swimming helps parents to fulfill the Talmudic commandment and make them more independent adults in the future.

- Daniel N. Baer, Associate Director, Camp Interlaken JCC (Eagle River, WI)

10 ways to involve your congregation in camp!

This post originally appeared on RJ.org

Recent studies confirm what we’ve known for years: Jewish summer camp significantly impacts lifelong Jewish behavior. Below are some ideas for ways that you can help your congregants and campers integrate their experiences:

1. Send Them a Postcard
Although we live in an internet age, there is nothing better than receiving at letter at camp and knowing you’re being thought of.  A postcard can be sent from clergy and/or the Temple board. Building a relationship with the camper makes them fell welcomed by the larger community.

2. Have a Pre and Post Camp Session
Welcome campers and their families for a pre and post camp session.  Give them a chance to build their excitement as well as express and new-camper jitters and reassure them their choice is a good one and celebrate their accomplishments!

3. Organize a Send-off party
More and more temples or groups of camp parents from a congregation (or a few neighboring congregations) are staging send-off parties. These could be backyard barbecues or a get-together for camp-bound kids and parents after temple services. No matter what form they take, these events help first-time parents and campers meet their peers prior to boarding the camp bus; as such, it often provides a welcome confidence boost. (Hint: Take photos and send them to the local newspaper and the temple bulletin/newsletter.)

4. Host an event for camper parents and send a congregational care package – While campers are at camp, host an event for parents! Have each family bring a small item that’s fun for a camp care package (enough units for the number of campers at camp from your synagogue). Parents schmooze and assemble care packages for all the campers from the congregation, and all the kids from your congregation will feel great when they get a care package from their synagogue!

5. Arrange a Camp Visit
Organize a group of prospective campers and camp families to visit camp and see it in action.  Current campers love to show their friends around as well as see friendly faces from their home communities.

6. Welcome Them Back and Let Them Share with the Congregation!
Set up a time for the youth to talk about camp! Give them a few minutes to share, ask them to participate in services, have them share their experience with younger youth in Religious school, or let them lead a whole camp-style service!  Welcome older campers to be madrichim in your religious school.

7. Share camper letters with the Congregation – Include letters from campers about their summer experiences in your temple bulletin, email newsletter and on your website.

8. Leverage Local Counselors
If you are fortunate to have URJ Camp counselors in your temple or community, they can prove to be very persuasive salespeople. They are the role models that parents want their children to emulate — and they have tremendous credibility with younger kids, who naturally look up to them. Ask your camp director or assistant director to provide you with a list of camp staff in your area and contact information so that you can tap into this powerful (yet often under-utilized) resource.

9. Recognize those who are going to camp
Find a prominent place in your Temple and place a photo of each youth going to camp on the wall.  Place their photos and bios in your e-newsletters and on your websites.  Celebrate their choice.

10. Have the Campers Make an Outreach Plan for Your Congregation
Encourage them to look around at your congregation’s neighborhood and come up with some ideas for ways to reach out. You may be surprised at the result!