It’s not too early to be thinking about summer plans. With the wide variety of options that exist, the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper program exists to encourage families to choose Jewish camping for their children.
Winter may have just begun, but for many families, now is the time to make plans for the summer and specifically camp. With the wide variety of options that exist, from travel camp to sports camp to theater camp and more, the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper program exists to encourage families to choose Jewish camping for their children.
One Happy Camper offers a $1,000 incentive grant for first-time campers attending a Jewish overnight camp, regardless of their financial situation. In 2008, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia became one of the first Jewish communities to offer the program, through a partnership with the Neubauer Family Foundation. The Jewish Federation has one of the top five programs in North America, having provided 2,573 One Happy Camper grants since the program’s inception.
Last year, the Jewish Federation made 405 One Happy Camper grants. “We’ve found that even parents who could afford Jewish summer camps wouldn’t have necessarily sent their kids to Jewish camp without the grant,” says Warren Hoffman, the Jewish Federation’s Associate Director of Community Programming. “The grant becomes a strong deciding factor. It’s free money with only a handful of qualifications.”
Though One Happy Camper grants are not need-based, the $1,000 per first-time camper has made sending children to Jewish overnight camp affordable for some families. “Having triplets, we realized providing for our children some of the experiences we had growing up would be much more challenging,” says Michelle Wizov. “When we found out about the One Happy Camper program, we were so happy to know that the assistance provided would allow our children to have the overnight camp experience. The fact that they would go to a Jewish camp only reinforced to us that we made the right decision. We’ve been committed to embracing and teaching Jewish values and traditions to our children in ways that are more fun and life-experience-based than when we were growing up!”
To be eligible for a grant, a child currently in any grade up to 10th must live in one of the five counties of Greater Philadelphia (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia), not be enrolled in a Jewish day school and be registered for a camp approved by the Foundation for Jewish Camp for a minimum of 19 consecutive days. With a list of almost 200 approved camps, the Foundation for Jewish Camp offers a Find a Camp tool to help families navigate through the different options like location, interests, special accommodations and religious denomination to find the camp that’s right for their child. “The question isn’t ‘Is Jewish camp right for my child?’; it’s ‘What Jewish camp is right for my child?’,” says Hoffman.
“Many of the Jewish overnight camps with which we work are sophisticated facilitators of learning, personal growth and great fun. Without sacrificing any of the many benefits and attractions of general camping, a Jewish camp offers the additional benefits of strengthening identity and giving kids an actual experience of community that simply cannot be duplicated during the year,” says Barbara Hirsh, Director of the Jewish Federation’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning.
Parents who are considering Jewish overnight camp are encouraged to apply for a One Happy Camper grant at onehappycamper.org. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
For more information about the One Happy Camper program, visit jewishphilly.org/onehappycamper or contact Warren Hoffman at 215.832.0570 or [email protected]