Incubating Jewish Experiences

by Jeremy J. Fingerman

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At the Foundation for Jewish Camp, we observed a growing trend several years ago: families were choosing non-Jewish summer camps so their children could pursue specialty experiences. We asked ourselves, “Why should families have to choose one over the other?” They shouldn’t! So the FJC Specialty Camps Incubator was born.

The goal of this program is to efficiently create and launch camps with a concentrated focus on specific activities, and to couple that focus with a mission to weave Jewish culture, values and learning throughout the camp program. The first cohort of five camps was carefully selected to cover a variety of specialties in specific geographical locations.

After two years of workshops, coaching and guidance for their camp directors, the new specialty camps opened their doors in the summer of 2010. 92Y Passport NYC, Adamah Adventures, Eden Village Camp, Ramah Outdoor Adventures, and URJ 6 Points Academy were wildly successful and continue to surpass their enrollment and retention goals, proving the demand for Jewish specialty options in the summer camp marketplace. The success of these camps prompted the Specialty Camps Incubator II, jointly funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and AVI CHAI Foundation, which will launch four new camps in the summer of 2014.

As we watch these camps go through the “incubation” process with anticipation, we are excited over this new cohort of Jewish summer camp innovations. We look forward to giving more children the opportunity to experience joyous Judaism this summer and for many summers to come. We encourage you to find out more about Jewish camp and the Specialty Camps Incubator at www.JewishCamp.org.

New Camps for 2014

Camp Inc. will provide a business and entrepreneurial summer camp experience rooted in Jewish values on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. Campers will learn how to build a company in an industry of their choice and gain the skills necessary to become innovators and social leaders in business, philanthropy and the Jewish community.

Camp Zeke will be a Poconos-area camp that will help children become healthier, fitter, happier, and more spiritually engaged Jews. It is founded on the time-honored Jewish lesson that physical and spiritual well-being go hand-in-hand. Focusing on pure foods, energizing fitness activities and culinary arts, Camp Zeke will immerse campers in traditional teachings of shmirat haguf (taking care of the body) and the latest developments in exercise science and nutrition.

JCC Maccabi Sports Camp will be for young Jewish athletes who are passionate about sports and desire to advance their skill levels. Based in the San Francisco area, this camp’s focus will be less on the individual’s current skill level than on the athlete’s capacity to be coached and a commitment to competitive sports with Jewish values and traditions weaved into the every day.

URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy will provide quality educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics  for campers in Byfield, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. It will not only engage campers’ curiosity about the world through hands-on exploration, experimentation and reflection; it will immerse them in a vibrant Jewish community. Jewish values, ethics and tradition will be woven together with the spirit and excitement of open scientific inquiry.

Jeremy J. Fingerman is the CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp.