October 31, 2013
Source: AVI CHAI Blog
Overnight Jewish summer camps provide exceptional opportunities for Jewish identity-building: shared Jewish experiences with peers in a unique and immersive camp environment that allows campers and staff to live within a Jewish world 24/7. AVI CHAI focuses its funding in the field of overnight Jewish camps on programming that enables the camps to infuse the summer with positive and engaging Jewish and Israel experiences, as well as to help more children attend quality Jewish camps.
The approaches in which we have invested include:
- Training and inspiring camp directors, assistant directors and large numbers of seasonal staff each year to execute meaningful Jewish and Israel educational programs during the summer;
- Helping camp professional leadership develop a coherent and comprehensive Jewish and Israel strategy and education program;
- Supporting the field in its efforts to increase camp enrollment and capacity, and to strengthen the work and the role of the central advocacy agency in the field, the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC);
- Engaging alumni to support their camps and bring to life the Jewish learning and values gained from their own experience.
We have learned some lessons over time about how to do this work in a way that is most effective at animating the “magic” of a self-contained Jewish environment:
- Invest in people. Committed, passionate and well-trained staff are crucial to the quality and impact of the camp experience. This is as true in day-to-day operations as it is in integrating meaningful Jewish content and experiences that add to the power and joy of camp.
- It’s not just the camp director. While the camp director sets the Jewish vision and tone of the camp environment, the realization of that vision is oftentimes most successful when others at camp also play critical roles in its execution.
- Create – and coordinate – a holistic environment. In short, the magic of camp really comes to life when the staff can work together collaboratively toward shared Jewish educational goals that are woven seamlessly throughout the camp experience. Particularly as the Jewish education training options have grown in number and popularity for camp staff, this takes planning and coordination.
Read more at the AVI CHAI Blog.