Several hundred nonprofit camp staff and lay leaders, philanthropists, and community professionals gathered together earlier this week for a stimulating and invigorating gathering filled with groundbreaking research findings, innovative new program announcements, and exciting introductions. Leaders Assembly, a national biennial conference, is organized by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), the only public organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for nonprofit Jewish overnight camps in North America.
Skip Vichness, chair of the FJC Board of Directors, expressed, “Jewish camping is in the vanguard of creating strong Jewish identities and providing transformative experiences for campers and staff. At no time has it been stronger and never has the future been brighter.”
The 2010 conference addressed the opportunities and challenges facing the field of nonprofit Jewish camp and the Jewish community. This year’s theme, Keys to the Cabin: Unlocking a Changing World, emphasized new areas of growth for individual camps and the entire field, empowering attendees to see themselves as “keys” to the success of the Jewish camp endeavor, while learning the “keys” to reach that success in these uncommon times.
FJC’s newly appointed CEO Jeremy J. Fingerman also made his debut at Leaders Assembly. The former president of Campbell Soup Company and CEO of The Manischewitz Company introduced himself to the crowd of enthusiastic attendees and discussed his vision. “The camping movement plays a critical role in the path to a stronger Jewish future. We do so, one kid at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time,” explained Fingerman. He introduced One More Kid, a call to action based on his belief in the ripple effect of one child attending Jewish camp and affecting his/her family, friends, and community. He encouraged the audience to join him over this next decade in devoting themselves to the pursuit of getting more kids to camp, one by one.
The Foundation revealed more exciting news from the findings of its newly unveiled market research study. This type of research, common in the private sector, is the third in a series conducted by the Foundation. Focusing on the Midwestern camp market, the study was created to determine how Jewish camps are perceived in the eyes of parents, particularly those who are intermarried. The main findings identified that it is the level of a family’s Jewish engagement that predicts Jewish camp attendance. Families also noted and appreciated the effectiveness of camp as an educational tool, highlighting that financial aid can make a difference in their decision to choose Jewish camp, particularly for families who are less Jewishly engaged.
Fingerman also announced a new partnership between FJC and The PJ Library called “PJ Goes to Camp.” Created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, The PJ Library sends Jewish-content books and music monthly to children ages 6 months to 8 years. The new partnership allows members to receive $1000 toward their first summer at camp without geographical restrictions. As with the FJC Campership Incentive and JWest Campership Programs, families can apply beginning March 25, 2010.