A lot can happen in 10 years.
In 2000, Leonard Saxe, PhD and Amy Sales, PhD visited Jewish overnight camps in 2000 for the first-ever study on the field, commissioned by the AVI CHAI Foundation. The result was a report called Limud by the Lake: Fulfilling the Potential of Jewish Summer Camps. Shortly after, they also wrote the book “How Goodly are Thy Tents”: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences. Based on their observations, Saxe and Sales made several recommendations, which have served as FJC’s guidelines to improving the field:
- Expand the reach of Jewish camping;
- Make camp a model of Jewish education;
- Provide the training and support counselors need to advance on their personal Jewish journeys and flourish in their work as Jewish role models; and
- Conduct research to inform the field of Jewish camping and ground its future development in reliable information.
Since this study, the field of Jewish camping has gained wide recognition for its successful track record in building Jewish identity. It has grown exponentially and made incredible strides. Communities, foundations, and other organizations have made camping a priority, fundraising to support it with never-before-seen gusto and momentum.
Now, almost a decade later, AVI CHAI commissioned Amy Sales to revisit the same camps for “an updated snapshot of the field.” She revealed the findings at a dinner hosted by AVI CHAI and FJC at the Jewish Funders Network International Conference last week in Philadelphia. Limud by the Lake Revisited: Growth and Change at Jewish Summer Camp confirmed how far the field has come as a result of the camps’ and FJC’s efforts and the support of a number of funders including the Marcus Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and AVI CHAI, who have recognized and understood the value of camp and invested in its development. In conjunction with CAMP WORKS, this research further qualifies the power of Jewish camp and proves why camping is on top of everyone’s agenda.
We are grateful to these dedicated philanthropists, and all who support Jewish camp. Every day, our work evolves, and reminds us just how far the field has come.