A summer to remember

It’s that time of year! Not a moment too soon to be thinking about transformative summer experiences. We are optimistic and hopeful that this summer’s plans will not be disrupted as they were last summer by COVID-19.

The positive impact of a summer at Jewish camp isn’t limited to a single camper for a single summer – it is year-round and lifelong, ongoing and unlimited, elevating families, synagogues, college campuses and communities, and helps shape a more vibrant Jewish future.

Research by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, whose mission it is to build a strong Jewish future through transformative Jewish summers, has shown day camp to “meaningfully engage the youngest members of the Jewish community. Day camps may be particularly impactful for younger children and preschoolers. Numerous studies indicate that much of children’s cognitive development, including the development of individual religious and cultural identity, takes place in the early childhood years. Jewish day camps appear to have exceptional opportunities to engage the youngest members of the Jewish community. Camp also has the benefit of shaping entire young Jewish families, including parents and siblings. In addition to campers, Jewish day camps have the potential to shape their parents according to Jewish communal values. Unlike in overnight camp, day campers return home to their families each evening to share stories, songs and new learnings from their day. Day camps also have the ability to encourage family involvement in the camp experience; inviting families to participate in programs like pre-Shabbat events and Havdalah, and offering parents access to a local Jewish social network of their own.”

The impact of overnight Jewish camp is immediate and lasting. Studies show that children who go to Jewish camp are more likely to grow into adults who value their heritage, are engaged in their communities and support more causes throughout their lives.

Camp is exciting! Your kids (or grandkids) will have the summer of their lives while also developing values like independence, friendship, community, inclusion and tradition. The residential camp experience promotes your child’s individual growth. Campers have cool Jewish role models in an enriching Jewish environment. Staff members are there to inspire confidence and independence. Camp activities emphasize independence, communication, problem solving, collaboration and leadership.

Israel travel is another transformative experience. Research and literature continually show that Israel travel is one of the best methods to enhance and reinforce our ties to Israel and Judaism. Israel travel opportunities provide us with a 24/7 experience in a Jewish context with a Jewish community, thus strengthening Jewish identity. A trip to Israel is a building block of Jewish identity. It engages one’s mind, heart, soul and body and is long-lasting. Whether the traveler is in high school or a young adult, a visit to Israel strengthens the bonds of diaspora Jews with the land and people of Israel. 

There are Jewish camp and Israel travel opportunities for everyone. No matter your background, there’s a Jewish experience where your child will have fun, be comfortable, learn more about themselves and explore their Jewish identity.

Whether it is Jewish day or residential camp or a trip to Israel, these experiences will enrich the lives of participants and their families now and into the future.

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is proud to make need-based scholarships available for summer camps, along with merit-based scholarships for Jewish teen experiences thanks to the generosity of our donors. We are also proud to sponsor programs like the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership and the Elaine and Leslie Lerner Israel Scholarship Fund for young adults. 

For more information, see article on page 5 of February 2021 issue of HAKOL, visit our website at www.jewishlehighvalley.org/scholarships or call 610-821-5500.