SUMMER CAMP can be a transformative experience for children. We at PJ Library are staunch supporters of the summer camp experience. Not only have we sent out a number of PJ Library books relating to Jewish overnight camp, but we have also partnered with OneHappyCamper.org as part of our PJ Goes to Camp effort.
EXPERIENCES OF A LIFETIME
As PJ Library founder Harold Grinspoon explains in his 2011 Jewish Week opinion piece, “Join Me at Summer Camp,” every child can benefit from a Jewish overnight camp experience.
“The camp experience will leave a lasting impression of the smiling faces of young children as they create lifelong friendships, experience new activities, and develop emotional and social skills,” Mr. Grinspoon writes. “That they also develop a love for Judaism that stays with them into adulthood is almost beside the point, an added benefit, to the fun they have playing outdoors in the summer sun.”
But what of that “added benefit”? How much influence does summer camp have on a child’s Jewish identity? As it turns out, quite a bit.
CAMPING & JEWISH IDENTITY
Jewish news writer Sue Fishkoff reported last spring about a Foundation for Jewish Camp study on the “long-term impact of Jewish overnight camp.” In her piece, titled “It’s Official: Jewish Camp Strengthens Jewish Identity,” Fishkoff explains that the Foundation for Jewish Camp used data from 26 national studies in analyzing the effects of Jewish camping on “individual as well as communal Jewish identity.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Jewish camp alumni — and their parents — have long known that those halcyon weeks spent at Jewish summer camp don’t just cement lifelong friendships,” Fishkoff writes, “they strengthen Jewish identity.”
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
If your child is ready to join the other 10 million American youth attending camp this summer (an impressive stat reported by PBS Kids), then there are a few things to know before selecting a camp and signing up.
PJ Library offers a blogpost, “How to Pick the Right Summer Camp,” covering the topic of selecting an appropriate destination for your children, but there are several other such resources as well. The Kveller.com article, “Jewish Summer Camp: Everything You Need to Know Before Signing Up,” for example, presents ten key questions to ask of any camp being considered for your child.
After applying due diligence and selecting the right camp for your child, we’re confident the summer’s experiences will lead to a lifetime of Jewish memories.