Although we are in the middle of winter and it may be hard to imagine spring and summer right around the corner, it’s already time to start thinking about summer camp and Israel travel opportunities for all ages! How will we keep the next generation of Jewish kids interested in being Jewish and connecting to Israel?
Jewish summer camp, particularly overnight camp, has long been a mainstay of American Jewish life and culture. Today, studies show that attending a Jewish summer overnight camp, such as Harlam, Pinemere and Ramah, 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 broad 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 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 a camp’s own community and culture.
Camp is an opportunity for children and adolescents to begin to explore their own identities and blaze their own paths, either as a camper or as a counselor or counselor-in-training. 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, such as 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.
There are also Israel travel experiences. No matter your background, there’s a Jewish experience where participants will have fun, be comfortable, learn more about themselves and explore their Jewish identity. Masa Israel offers long-term Israel experience programs ranging from 2-12 months of study, service and career development internships for Jews in the diaspora ages 18-30.
Whether it is a trip to Israel, Jewish day or residential camp, these experiences will enrich the lives of participants and their families now and into the future. Make this a summer to remember!
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is proud to make need-based scholarships available for Israel teen and young adult travel, and for summer camp for eligible families. These funds are made possible through the VISIT program, the Elaine and Leslie z”l Lerner Israel Scholarship Fund (for young adults) and the generosity of our donors who provide scholarship support each year. For more information, visit jewishlehighvalley.org/scholarships to apply before March 24, 2023.