Meet Camp Expert, Aviva Schwartz


When I was 11 years old, my parents put me on a bus to an overnight camp, sight unseen, for eight weeks. The camp was a 12-hour drive from my home in Indianapolis and far away from everything that was familiar to me. 

I only knew one person on that bus. Did I mention that it was for EIGHT WEEKS and before the internet and high-tech communication? 

Needless to say, after just a few days, I was hooked and spent the next 10 summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and on Ramah Israel programs, first as a camper and then in multiple, staff roles.  

Coming from a relatively small Jewish community, being at camp allowed me to understand that I was a part of a vast Jewish community.  Some of this was done through more obvious means – Shabbat customs, t’fillot (prayers) and speaking Hebrew, but Jewish ideals were also apparent in sports, camp musicals and singing songs around the campfire. 

I always found it amazing how camp was able to take a bunk of campers from all different backgrounds and find the commonality in all of them while at the same time leaving room for self-expression.  

Last summer, I attended my 25th camp reunion and reconnected with camp friends – many of whom I had not seen in person for many years. It felt like no time had passed, as we were sitting on the grassy fields – sharing stories and reminiscing of our time as campers and how it shaped our lives. Jewish overnight camp is where I learned how to be the communal leader I am today and has brought the values of Judaism in my day-to-day life.

My children now attend overnight camp (albeit much closer to home and I do receive daily pictures), and I get so emotional thinking about the experiences they are having and the skills and relationships they are building that will last a lifetime.

There are many summer camping opportunities for our children, teens and young adults in and around the Baltimore Jewish community and across North America. In my new role at The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping, I am committed to providing free, personalized camp consultations to families and dedicated to finding the right camping experience for your child.

I work closely with local camps, meeting with camp staff during the year as well as conducting on-site visits during the summers to see them in action. I am constantly keeping up with the most innovative programs and activities that are launched and looking at ways in which we can support camps and create a connection to the Baltimore Jewish community.

I look forward to sharing my personal experiences and first-hand knowledge with you and your family. I am excited to meet with you in-person or speak over the phone to answer all of your camping questions!

Additionally, I am happy to participate in synagogue and community events to engage with groups or individuals about Jewish summer camp.  Let me help you find the perfect camp today! Email me at avschwartz@associated.org or give me a call at 410-735-5011 for more information.

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