By Samuel “Skip” Vichness and Peter J. Weidhorn
What a difference eighteen years makes. Eighteen years ago if Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) had sent out an invitation to meet and talk about camping – we could have used a cabin in one of the camps with room left over. No one could have envisioned we would be gathering today with over 740 professionals, educators, supporters, and advocates for the 6th Leaders Assembly and to celebrate our 18th anniversary. Today is about vision and visionaries, investors and investment. We celebrate and recognize the leaders who have come forward on the local, regional, and continental level and changed the face of Jewish camping forever.
Eighteen years of vision and visionaries, investors and investments have allowed FJC to blaze a path to create and eleveate a field of Jewish camp. We have concentrated on leadership development to help professionalize the field, Jewish educational opportunities to instill a joyous Jewish experience, and introduce new campers to Jewish camp through programs like the One Happy Camper incentive program and our Specialty Camp Incubators. Today, there is no community in North America that does not value the importance of Jewish camp.
Vision and visionaries, investors and investment. Knowing where you are and where you are going. Whether a camp lay leader or the camp director, a funder or educator – you must always know where you are and where you are going. For the board and staff of FJC, that means always thinking about tomorrow. Whether it’s problem solving or developing strategic objectives, it’s about tomorrow. Camp programs, camp infrastructure, development efforts, and financial discipline all must be focused on tomorrow.
After eighteen years of focusing exclusively on overnight camps, FJC is broadening and expanding its mission because we believe that all Jewish summer experiences build Jewish identity and ultimately create a more vibrant Jewish future. We all agree that Jewish summers are the key to the Jewish future and that we must develop more ways to give more children and more families more access to Jewish engagement, be it to day camp, overnight camp, or teen immersive experiences.
Visions and visionaries, investors and investments. They help us seed the many tomorrows that change the world. We know the Jewish summer experience is part – a very important part – of a larger Jewish eco-system and creates a connection to Jewish preschool and early childhood programs, day schools and day camps, congregational participation and support, teen programs, Birthright, Hillel, Israel and post-college opportunities.
We look forward to building a stronger tomorrow through transformative Jewish summers.
Samuel “Skip” Vichness is past chair of Foundation for Jewish Camp. Peter J. Weidhorn is current chair of Foundation for Jewish Camp.