What are the benefits of Jewish camping? How do I find out what camps are out there? Is there a camp that will meet my child’s specific needs? Can we even afford camp? When considering Jewish day and overnight camping, families not surprisingly have a lot of questions and concerns. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is pleased to offer the comprehensive support families need to embark on this exciting journey.
“The Jewish Federation offers multiple benefits,” said Abigail Weinberg, associate director of Jewish Life and Learning. “First we help families find the camp that is right for them with our summer camp specialist, Sharon Bromberg. Using her wealth of knowledge about the vast array of Jewish summer camps, Sharon can help any family sift through the many options and match each child with the appropriate summer experience.
“Then we can help families pay for camp,” continued Weinberg, “with our need-based scholarships for both day and overnight campers and our first-time camper grants for Jewish overnight camps.”
For the summer of 2017, the Jewish Federation has awarded more than 900 camp scholarships and grants totaling more than $630,000.
“In addition to the fun and significant Jewish identity-building experience that overnight camp offers, we are seeing the growing importance of Jewish day camp as a meaningful experience for campers and counselors, particularly as some of the day camps offer increasingly sophisticated Jewish content,” said Barbara Hirsh, director of Jewish Life and Learning. “Parents and their kids can choose to spend time physically active, interacting with nature, making new friends — all while immersed in a Jewish atmosphere with Jewish music, Hebrew words, Jewish values, Shabbat experiences and more. The Jewish Federation is making this choice affordable for many of our local families.”
Now, with summer in full swing, is an excellent time for families to, yes, begin thinking about next summer and how to reap the most benefits from Jewish camping. Following are more details on how the Jewish Federation can help ensure your children enjoy a transformative camping experience:
- Camp concierge services. Sharon Bromberg will be your camp personal shopper. She will meet with you to discover who you and your child are, discuss what you want for your child, and then present you with several options. Camp consultations are free. Noted Hirsh, “Sharon has encountered many parents who were unaware of the array of Jewish camps, each with their own unique offerings. And among parents who knew there were Jewish camps, many had no idea how dynamic and sophisticated such camps have become. The Jewish Federation helps families discover this world.”
- Resources for campers with special needs. Sending children with very specific physical or emotional requirements to camp can be even more involved. The Jewish Federation has compiled comprehensive information about a variety of options for campers with varying needs and abilities.
- One Happy Camper grants. These incentive grants encourage families to try Jewish overnight camp. One Happy Camper, a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, is funded locally by the Jewish Federation and the Neubauer Family Foundation. Campers can receive either a $700 incentive grant for a first-time overnight camp experience lasting 12 to 18 consecutive days or a $1,000 incentive grant for a first-time overnight camp experience lasting 19 or more consecutive days, regardless of family income.
- Need-based day and overnight camp scholarships. Campers between the ages of 5 and 19 who identify as Jewish and live in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties may be eligible for need-based assistance. Depending on family need and the cost of camp, eligible campers can receive between 10 and 30 percent of the cost of camp.
- Convening and advocating. The Jewish Federation is committed to strengthening local Jewish camps by bringing together camp leaders for ongoing development and discussions, and by advocating on behalf of camps to promote Jewish continuity throughout the community.
“The thank you notes we receive from campers who have benefited from our assistance are a delight to read, and a reminder of how profound an experience camp can be,” Hirsh said.
While Sharon Bromberg is away at camp, if you have any questions about One Happy Camper grants, please contact Lindsay Weicher at [email protected] or 215-832-0585. If you have any other general camp questions please contact Abby Weinberg at [email protected] or 215-832-0570.