Summer Youth Experiences

Summertime Forever: 11 Ways Your Congregation Can Support Its Campers

May 28, 2015

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.

Camp Chazak: Fulfilling God’s Plan for Kids with Disabilities

December 8, 2014
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.

6 Ways URJ Camps are Leading the Way in Jewish Camping

July 10, 2014
The Forward recently shared "Jewish Camp Trend-Spotting: 10 Ways a Summer Ritual Is Changing," detailing how the world of Jewish camping is evolving – and the Reform Jewish Movement’s 15 summer camps are leading the way! Here are a few ways URJ Camps are on the cutting edge:
  1. Specialized Programs: Specialty camps allow us to expand our geographic and programmatic reach to cohorts of young people who otherwise would be unlikely to enroll in Jewish camp.
    • Ours is the only Jewish camping system that received funding in both rounds of the Specialty Camps Incubator program. An initiative of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the AVI CHAI Foundation, these grants support the creation of new specialty camps to engage more children in the Jewish camp experience.
    • At URJ 6 Points Sports Academy (NC), Jewish athletes participate in top-level sports training in a Reform Jewish camp setting. This year’s registration was the highest in the camp’s five-year history.

Camp Jenny: Impacting Lives Year After Year

May 27, 2014
By Richard Rosenthal Partaking in annual traditions are what highlight family values to me. For example, watching the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade together, using the same afikoman cover year after year, and preparing a special meal for Rosh HaShanah are some special traditions that come to mind. Along that continuum, there is a tradition that blossomed over 25 years ago at URJ Camp Coleman in the North Georgia Mountains called Camp Jenny. This tradition happens every year, when camp organizers come together with 125 NFTYites to share their values, and to offer their love, leadership, and guidance to approximately 150 under-privileged children who engage in camp activities over Memorial Day weekend.