Summer Youth Experience

Summer Youth Experience

Our URJ Youth programs are cornerstones of the Reform Movement's youth engagement efforts.

URJ Youth

Alone, the numbers are just numbers. When taken in light of these new findings, though, they tell a compelling story of success.

Miriam Chilton

May is a busy month as we wind down the school year and gear up for summer. Build on the energy and relationships you created this year using these 10 suggestions for staying connected to your youth while they’re away.

Miriam Chilton

Playing a supporting role in a major human rights advocacy campaign is both gratifying and humbling.

Louis Bordman

“Is it still relevant?” It’s a question that we in liberal Jewish communities ask ourselves quite often.

Rabbi Eric Gurvis

By Rabbi Michael A. White

I recently returned from a magical week as a faculty member at the URJ Kutz Camp, the Reform Movement's teen leadership institute at the foothills of the Catskills in Warwick, N.Y. My week at Kutz brought back memories of my first visit some 37 years ago.

Nearly four decades ago, one of my high school classmates convinced me to attend a regional youth group event at Kutz, and off I went. Until that weekend, Shabbat, to me, meant sitting in a hard pew while listening to organ music. Shabbat at Kutz camp was refreshingly different, to say the least!

During Shabbat at Kutz that first year, we ate greasy chicken and delicious doughy challah. Services were energizing and informal, led by a cool guy with long hair, a mustache, and a guitar. We draped our arms around each other's shoulders, and we sang our hearts out. We talked through the night. And just before we left, one of the leaders of the Reform Movement, Al Vorspan, challenged us to fight to end apartheid in South Africa, for women's rights, for Israel. He told us that we were the future, that we could make a difference, and that we could heal the world.

That first weekend at camp, I became a committed, enthusiastic Reform Jew.

As the academic year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up resources for your congregation to stay connected with your campers throughout the summer. The tips and resources here will assist your congregation in leveraging the learning, joy and relationships developed at camp during the summer. We hope you find a few of these recommendations helpful in deepening their love of Jewish living and learning when they return home. Before the summer...

  1. Recognize those who are headed off to camp: Invite kids to the bimah for a send-off blessing. Display photos and bios of campers who are going to camp on a bulletin board and include their names in bulletins and emails.
  1. Organize a send-off party: Help campers meet new friends from their home congregations and get excited about heading to camp.
  1. Help families get ready: Share the link to resources on ReformJudaism.org, especially with first-time camp families. Identify a family in your community who can be a resource for first-timers.

by Emily Gergen and Stephen Weitzman

According to Jewish tradition, the number three has special significance implying completeness and stability. Examples of this importance include the expression “and God blessed,” which occurs three times in Genesis; the word “holy,” which is recited three times during kedusha, the priestly benediction which consists of three sections; the three Patriarchs; and the three pilgrimage festivals.

Considering the power of three, we have been on the staff and faculty of Camp Chazak, the URJ’s camp for children who have social adjustment delays, for the past three years. As a result, we have directly witnessed tremendous spiritual growth and personal changes on the part of campers, regardless of whether they were new to the program or were repeat participants.