Home > Blog > Youth > Looking Into an Overnight Camp? Why a Jewish Camp Makes Sense
There’s no denying it, summer camp is fun! It’s where many kids try new activities (wakeboarding, anyone?), eat different foods (s’mores!), and discover their passions and talents. It’s where they can make different friends, learn about themselves, and grow socially, emotionally, and physically.
Jewish summer camps fuse the activities, friendships, and communal life of traditional camps with the Jewish values, role models, and culture of our heritage. Read on for five powerful reasons why families send their children to a Jewish camp.
Experiences first, explanations later. In most areas of life, kids are taught values, lessons, and skills – usually in a classroom setting – and then they experience them. Not so at Jewish summer camp, where Jewish life is just life. Daily routines and activities are imbued with the Jewish values they’ve learned in your homes, at Temple, and throughout Religious School. The explanations come later. This is a uniquely powerful way for children to experience Judaism.
Jewish camp addresses the whole camper. At camp, children learn how to live among people who are not their immediate family members and encounter new situations and challenges on a daily basis. Using Jewish values, texts, and traditions, adult role models and mentors create safe spaces for campers to grapple with complex ideas – topics that secular schools and camps may not address. Jewish camp provides balance by creating space for spiritual, emotional, and physical growth for campers.
Jewish summer camp contributes to a lifelong Jewish identity. During the summer, campers find adult role models, and make friends from different places. Campers experience joy in a Jewish community, develop self-confidence as Jews, and forge Jewish connections that stay with them into their lives beyond camp. Extensive research in recent years has shown that children who attend Jewish summer camp are more likely to identify as Jewish adults and actively engage in the Jewish community.
Camp friendships last. After the dirty laundry has been washed and the camp trunk has been put away, the friendships endure. Camp is an easy entry point into a Jewish community beyond WHC. As kids grow, opportunities abound to connect with Jewish peers through youth group, Israel travel, social justice programs, and much more. As your WHC rabbis, Religious School, and youth staff (and many, many WHC members) will attest, friendships made during their summers at a Jewish camp stayed with them through college, young adulthood, and beyond.
Camp helps kids succeed beyond childhood. Those friendships and contacts made from attending – and working at – Jewish summer camp have helped young adults find a community when they leave for college, jump start their careers after graduation, and meet people when they settle in new cities. What more could a parent want?
Interested in learning more about a URJ summer camp? Visit urjyouth.org.
This article has been adapted from a piece that originally appeared on ReformJudaism.org.
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