What’s New With Jewish Camp

In 2013, when The Associated established the Center for Jewish Camping, its mission was to increase the number of Baltimore youth attending Jewish day and overnight camps.

The reason was simple. It was proven that Jewish camp was one of the underlying pillars that increased Jewish connection as an adult.

This past year, The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping in partnership with its 13 local area day and overnight camps, introduced a new program, Camp Connections, which is elevating Jewish camp in our community. Camp Connections has three significant elements including a community-wide program, enhanced marketing strategy, and professional training for year-round camp professionals.

In April 2019, Camp Connections featured Dr. Deborah Gilboa (Dr. G), a parenting expert whose column “Ask Doctor G” has received national recognition. Dr. G led a training on how to talk to campers about 21st century issues. 

In December, Dr. G returned to Baltimore, along with Comedian Pamela Rae Schuller for a community-wide program where they shared their camp stories and insights. Schuller, who has Tourette’s Syndrome and credits Jewish camp for making her feel celebrated for the first time, also led a workshop for camp professionals on inclusion.

“David Shapiro [the former Chair of The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping] was the visionary for the Camp Connections program,” says Saadya Zakheim, who serves as the Chair of the Center along with Vice-Chair Ricky Gratz. “Since camp is so critical to helping kids build a strong Jewish identity, we want to ensure that partner camps are supported and have the tools to make the camp experience as strong as possible.”

Saadya, who attended Camp Moshava in Honesdale, Pa., for many years as a camper and then counselor, credits Jewish camp as the most critical element in shaping his Jewish identity.

Since establishing the Center for Jewish Camping, The Associated has seen a 10 percent increase in Baltimore campers attending Jewish day and overnight camp since the program’s inception seven years ago.

Click here to see the impact of camp.

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