Foundation for Jewish Camp Leaders Assembly 2012: 'Reach Beyond the Bunk'

March 15, 2012

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Deborah Fishman writes about this year’s Foundation for Jewish Camp Leaders Assembly which took place from March 11-13th in New Brunswick, NJ. Over 650 were in attendance including camping professionals, lay leaders, Jewish Federation and foundation representatives, and others who care deeply about Jewish camp and its future. Participants crowd-sourced over 600 session ideas, culled down to 43 open-source sessions on the topics that the participants themselves wanted to talk about, from “Making the Case: Selling Jewish Camp to Parents” to “To Plug In or Not to Plug In: Thinking about Technology at Camp” and “Keeping Up With the Changing Face of the Jewish World.”


During conference breaks and hallway time, Fishman took the opportunity to ask camp directors and other stakeholders for their personal reflections on the overall conference theme of “Reach Beyond the Bunk.” She posted videos of some of those videos along with her article.


At the Assembly, The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) announced the launching of Specialty Camps Incubator II, with an $8.6 million grant. The funding is being provided by The Jim Joseph and AVI CHAI Foundations. The second cycle of this program will be used to open four new nonprofit Jewish overnight camps dedicated to a specific skill or area of interest while introducing and integrating Jewish culture.


The five camps that opened in summer 2010 as a result of the first Specialty Camps Incubator are a notable success, exceeding their enrollment benchmarks by 146% in the first two years. They provided a new path to Jewish camp for many children: 40% of campers who attended these specialty camps reported that they had never attended Jewish camp before and 66% said that they only went to Jewish camp because they were attracted to one of the specialties. Additionally, 74% of campers’ parents reported that the experience positively impacted their Jewish identity and 65% testified to positive changes in campers’ Jewish knowledge.


In advance of the Assembly, JData Revealed released a newsletter dedicated to the FJC overnight camps and how they changed from Summer 2010 to Summer 2011, in particular with regard to enrollments. Its articles show what is possible with a longitudinal database. Adding the dimension of time turns a simple system into a highly complex one, but one with far greater explanatory power.

Updated: Apr. 01, 2012