Four Site Visits and Some Thoughts on European Jewish Camping

September 5, 2018

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


To understand more about Jewish camping in Europe, I spent time this summer visiting four Jewish youth camps. While much has been written about the successful Szarvas International Jewish Camp  in Hungary, most European Jewish communities organise their own summer (and sometimes winter) youth camps.

My visits were a natural follow-up from taking a delegation of European camp professionals to the Leaders Assembly which brought together more than 800 camping professionals to the biennial conference of the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) in Baltimore, USA last March. These are some of the steps that the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe is taking to explore ways of supporting European Jewish camps to deliver richer Jewish experiences.

Jewish camps in Europe have the potential to deliver impactful Jewish experiences for madrichim and for campers. It is also very easy to deliver a fun experience with very little content – campers are happy, and parents are satisfied. RFHE is keen to find ways to support European Jewish camps in deepening the Jewish content of their programmes and deliver rich Jewish experiences that are relevant and meaningful. There is no one-size fits all approach – while there are Jewish summer camps in most European communities, they vary greatly in size, languages, community and youth movement affiliation, ideology, Jewish content versus fun, level of investment in madrichim training, etc…

Watching from afar, many of the American FJC’s initiatives in the areas of professional development for camp leadership, building networks and enhancement of Jewish content in camps are very relevant for Jewish camping in Europe: bring people together, exchange best practices, model excellence, share resources, and support camps in formulating their Jewish vision. Inspired by these summer trips, it’s clear that RFHE should start focusing on three main areas:

  • Pan European cooperation
  • Enhancing the Jewish content in training programmes
  • Strengthening the role of the Jewish camp in the educational eco–system of the local community

Camps create a positive immersive Jewish experience; ensuring that those responsible for designing the camp’s tochnit are equipped with the skills and knowledge to maximise the unique Jewish ‘flavour’ of the camp is a welcome challenge.

Read the entire post on eJewish Philanthropy

Updated: Oct. 07, 2018