Studies have shown that kids who attend Jewish camp are more likely to have a connection to Judaism as they get older, but the high cost of camp prevents them from going. However, the Jewish Federation awards hundreds of need-based scholarships every year to make Jewish camp more affordable.
The mission of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is to mobilize financial and volunteer resources to address the community’s most critical priorities in Greater Philadelphia, in Israel and around the world. One of these priorities is supporting and facilitating a culturally vibrant Jewish community in Greater Philadelphia to keep Jews actively engaged and strengthen their Jewish identity. One of the best ways to engage young people in Jewish life is through Jewish camp. “Studies have shown that kids who attend Jewish camp are more likely to have a connection to Judaism as they get older,” says Warren Hoffman, the Jewish Federation’s Associate Director of Community Programming, “but for many families, the high cost is a barrier to sending their children to Jewish camp.”
To help lower this barrier, the Jewish Federation awards hundreds of need-based scholarships every year to make Jewish camp more affordable. “It is one of the best investments for creating life-long, impactful Jewish experiences for the next generation,” says Hoffman. “For some campers, Jewish camp is the only source of Judaism in their lives. They might not go to synagogue, religious school or Jewish day school or have Jewish friends, but camp becomes the central way that these kids connect to their Jewish roots.”
Every year, the Jewish Federation receives thank-you letters from families and the campers themselves about their excitement for the summer and their amazing time at camp. One mother wrote about her daughter’s camp experience: “She gained a sense of pride in her culture and a new perspective on what it means to be Jewish. Upon returning home she wanted to celebrate Shabbat and every holiday with fervor.”
Last year, the Jewish Federation provided 539 need-based scholarships to Jewish day and overnight camps with the support of funds allocated from the Jewish Community Fund, restricted gifts and 11 restricted endowment funds, which are designated for camp scholarships as well as informal Jewish education and Jewish continuity. Scholarships can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the family’s need and the cost of the camp; however, the Jewish Federation will only cover up to 30% of camp tuition. In order to be eligible, campers must be between the ages of 5 and 19, live in one of the five counties of Greater Philadelphia (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia) and already be registered for camp. Campers are not eligible to receive need-based scholarships if they have already received a One Happy Camper grant and vice versa.
For more information about camp scholarships or to apply, visit jewishphilly.org/campscholarship or contact Warren Hoffman at 215.832.0570 or [email protected]. The deadline to apply for overnight camp scholarships is Feb. 29, and the deadline to apply for day camp scholarships is March 31.