Kudos on your Nov. 16 editorial “Giving thanks in fractious times.” The Jewish community has much to celebrate and to the areas you list off, I say “dayenu.” That said, Jewish camp should be celebrated both as a means of engaging our young people directly as well as a channel that consistently reaches young families.
Jewish overnight camp has been a centerpiece of the Jewish-American experience for over 100 years spanning all denominations. Today, there are over 160 educational residential camps throughout North America that provide joyful Jewish experiences and a lasting impact every summer to more than 80,000 children and over 11,000 college-age counselors. Since 2006, we have seen a steady rise in campers, camps, and the number of campers per camp; the overall number of campers has grown 23 percent. In Greater MetroWest alone, over 1,200 children attended camp last summer, including 254 who received new camper grants thanks to the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper program sponsored locally by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
While I recognize that your list was not meant to be exhaustive, Jewish overnight camp has been, and remains, a major force in shaping our Jewish future…and is one more thing for which we should be thankful.
Peter J. Weidhorn
Foundation for Jewish Camp