Jewish Federation Helps Jewish Camps Get Back in Session
Kids splashing in pools, running on open fields, playing tag and licking dripping popsicles on blazing hot days — these are the sights and sounds of summer! After a year of kids learning behind a screen and being isolated from peers, experiential programs, like camp, are more important than ever. This summer, Jewish camps will provide the same exciting, educational and meaningful opportunities as usual, but with enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols for campers and staff.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is committed to helping camps succeed after losing a summer of revenue during the pandemic. Studies have shown that Jewish summer camp is one of the most meaningful ways to strengthen Jewish values and foster lifelong connections to the community.
“While my parents raised me to be Jewish, camp awakened me to understand and value the importance of Jewish peoplehood,” said Michael Balaban, Jewish Federation president and CEO. “I credit much of my love for Israel, Jewish learning, the importance of tzedakah and my commitment to the Jewish community to having attended Jewish summer camp.”
The Jewish Federation offers multiple financial incentives to help make camp a viable option for families. Parents can apply for need-based day and overnight camp scholarships directly through the Jewish Federation. Compared to pre-pandemic summers, the Jewish Federation experienced a 20 percent increase in the number of day camp scholarships awarded.
The Jewish Federation also offers One Happy Camper, an incentive grant of up to $1,000, to families with children attending overnight camp for the first time. This summer, the Foundation for Jewish Camp generously created a matching grant of up to $36,000 for the expansion of this program to encourage even more families to offer these Jewish experiences for their children. To date, more than $255,000 has been provided to 270 first-time campers for the 2021 season through the One Happy Camper grant in partnership with Foundation for Jewish Camp.
“Jewish camping instills in children the excitement and beauty of Judaism and the importance of our commitment to its continuance,” said Hershel Richman, co-chair of the Jewish Federation’s Committee for Jewish Life and Learning. “As a past camper and counselor, I can attest that Jewish camping is one of the most meaningful and long-lasting life experiences one can have.”
Knowing the positive impact of Jewish summer camps on the community, the Jewish Federation invested more than $585,000 in need-based day and overnight scholarships to 602 campers for the 2021 season. In response to the impact of the pandemic on families, the average assistance for overnight scholarships was increased and no eligible families were turned away. Additionally, the Jewish Federation raised $300,000 in emergency funding and leveraged an additional $150,000 through the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) Matching Grant for Jewish camps over the last year.
With higher operating expenses to keep kids safe and many families facing ongoing financial challenges from the pandemic, funding is still necessary. This summer, the Jewish Federation is once again leveraging a matching grant opportunity through HGF to raise an additional $300,000 as part of the All Together Now 2021: A Matching Grant for Jewish Overnight Camp for a total investment of $450,000 for local camps.
“Showing kids that Judaism is fun and being part of a Jewish community is meaningful is exactly what our committee aims to provide our children,” said Marc Prine, co-chair of the Jewish Federation’s Committee for Jewish Life and Learning.
For more information about Jewish educational opportunities, contact Rachel Berger, the Jewish Federation’s director of Kehillot and Jewish Life and Learning, at email@example.com.