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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776

URJ Camp Kalsman Celebrates Five Years as Only Reform Jewish Camp in Pacific Northwest

Camp Growth Represents Expansion of Jewish Community in Region

Contact: Annette Powers

Seattle, WA, June 23  -- The Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) Camp Kalsman will celebrate five years since its founding in 2007. The 300-acre property in Arlington, Washington provides children ages 8-16 with a rewarding Jewish camping experience that will inspire them to develop a strong sense of Jewish self, nourish a love of Jewish learning and practice, and cultivate a desire to build lifelong connections to the Northwest Jewish community.

The celebration will commence with a special event for past, present and future campers as well as any camp supporters on Sunday, July 10, from 1:00 until 5:30 p.m. on the camp grounds.  The event will include a fun-filled afternoon of camp activities and concert featuring Reform Jewish rock icon Dan Nichols & Eighteen.

One of 13 URJ residential summer camps and the first and only Reform Movement residential summer camp in the Pacific Northwest, the camp has quickly became an invaluable addition to Jewish life in the region. Nestled at the base of the North Cascades, Kalsman provides first-class camping opportunities for Jewish children from Washington, Oregon, Montana, British Columbia, Idaho, Alaska, and beyond. The facility provides rental and programming opportunities for Jewish organizations in the area.

As Kalsman enters its fifth summer of camping, it has established a reputation for providing a profound, transformative experience for campers and staff and has grown at a dramatic rate. This summer, 575 campers registered, a 67% growth rate from 346 registered campers the first season. Each year more campers have registered and stayed for longer periods of time.

These growing demands are indicators of Kalsman's success and the significant numbers of Jewish youth in the Pacific Northwest who want to have a Jewish camping experience. In order to better serve this community, Kalsman has added 90 new camper beds and expanded program facilities this summer. A Northwest Camper Village, to be completed by summer 2013, will allow 1,000 additional campers to attend Kalsman each year.

"Being part of camp elevates a young person's commitment to a lifetime of active participation in Judaism and Jewish life and builds relationships that last a lifetime," said URJ Camp Kalsman Director David Berkman. "Kalsman plays the crucial role in building Jewish identity for the next generation, as the Jewish population of the Pacific Northwest continues to grow, it has become an invaluable addition to Jewish life in the region."

A $5 million lead gift from the Kalsman-Levy family of Los Angeles made it possible for the URJ to acquire the original property, which was previously owned by the Love Israel family commune. The property was then transformed from a dilapidated campground into a $23 million dollar facility, complete with an alpine climbing tower, a lake with an island, a heated swimming pool and a vineyard.

The URJ's camp network includes 13 regional camps in the Northeast, Midwest, South, California and Ontario, Canada, providing camping experiences for more than 10,000 young people each year. Since 1951, more than 500,000 people have attended URJ camps.

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