As the month of February begins, despite the cold weather, it’s time to think about summer plans. (Hard to believe it’s that time already!) Our focus is on the summer camp experience and encouraging others to consider this as a summer option for your children or grandchildren.
Jewish summer camps, particularly overnight camps, are the bond that connects Jewish identity to the next generation. Whether your kids are into sports or social justice, there’s a Jewish summer camp for them, and we know that community engagement now continues well into adulthood. Studies consistently show that attending a Jewish summer overnight camp, such as Harlam, Pinemere and Ramah among many others, is one of the strongest predictors of developing a strong Jewish identity in adulthood.
Jewish summer camp options continue to reflect the diversity of lifestyles and identities within the broader American Jewish community, aiming to meet the evolving needs of Jewish children. There are overnight camps, day camps and specialty camp options, some of which are reflected in our own community. More broadly, summer camp is an opportunity for growth and development for both children and counselors alike. The camp experience affords participants the chance to build new relationships, foster independence and resilience, develop new skills or practice favorite ones and, most importantly, contribute to the camp’s own community and culture.
By attending one of our local community camps through the JCC, both campers and counselors begin to learn and experience the things that we, as the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, value. This includes developing and enhancing specialty skills alongside friends; bonding with the Israeli teens from Yoav, our partnership region; and celebrating Shabbat together as a community on Fridays. Our local camp options are a chance for us to introduce the youngest in our community to the richness and vibrancy that our Jewish community has to offer them, allowing them to experience those things and see for themselves how loved, welcomed and valued they are as the future of our community.
In addition to thinking about summer camp, I am pleased to remind you that we are currently in the midst of our Federation’s 60 Day Challenge. The 60 Day Challenge is a chance for the Lehigh Valley Jewish community to re-envision what we can achieve together. It is an opportunity for you to show your support and enhance the vibrancy of our community by making your generous donation to our 2022 Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs.
As we continue our 60-day challenge to re-connect, re-engage and re-imagine, there are multiple events and opportunities to focus on our Jewish community and to enjoy the benefits of the social support that comes from a strengthened community. Our annual Super FunDay phone-a-thon, this year in March, is one such opportunity to donate financially and will include an afternoon of mitzvah activities to benefit those around us. Please accept my sincere gratitude for your strong support and your continuing involvement in our Jewish community. On behalf of our Jewish community, I look forward to connecting, engaging, and imagining with you!
Needs-based Camp scholarships and teen experience grants are available through the Federation. Visit our website www.jewishlehighvalley.org/scholarships to apply before March 25, 2022.