Courtesy URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy

Happy campers at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy (an Incubator II camp); photo courtesy URJ. 

The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), with generous assistance from the AVI CHAI Foundation, has launched Specialty Camps Accelerator II. Building on the success of the model of the Specialty Camps Accelerator I, the second cycle of this innovative program will open up to 8 new nonprofit Jewish overnight camps dedicated to a specific skill or area of interest while introducing and integrating Jewish culture. Each camp will have the potential capacity of 400 campers each per summer.

The Accelerator will fast-track the creation of new camps, encouraging and leveraging significant local investment with FJC’s well-honed consulting services. FJC will offer support to a select cohort of individuals, organizations or existing camp professionals as they plan and implement their vision for new models in Jewish resident specialty camp to launch in summer 2018 through their second summer of camp operation in 2019.

“Over the past five years, FJC has had notable success in guiding the opening of 9 new specialty camps as a result of the Specialty Camps Incubator I and II,” says Yossi Prager, Executive Director-North America for The AVI CHAI Foundation. “Collectively, they exceeded their enrollment benchmarks and provided a new path to Jewish camp for many children. As specialty camps continue to gain in popularity, these new camps, as well as the two camps in Accelerator I, continue the momentum and grow the field of Jewish camp. We are excited to be a part of this effort.”

The program will begin with an RFP process in September 2015. FJC leadership will spend the 2015 summer meeting with prospective partners who may be interested in starting a specialty camp. The goal is to bring to life innovative ideas in underserved areas that incorporate experiential Jewish learning along with excellence in programming. Specific emphasis will be placed on those with greatest fundraising capacity. The grant underwrites the Accelerator services, start up capital and deficit funding for each camp needs to be raised by the applicant through local or individual resources.

With the launch of Incubator I, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation in 2008, FJC embarked on a process of creating a new model for Jewish camping – one that understood the need for excellence in the Jewish educational and identify-building aspects of camp as well as the secular camp programs. Given the documented success of the 5 camps started in Incubator I, four new camps were created with the launch of the FJC Incubator II, with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation and the AVI CHAI Foundation in 2012.

To date, the nine camps in aggregate have provided a meaningful Jewish and specialty camp experience to over 4000 unique campers. In 2016, 2 more camps will be added through the Specialty Camps Accelerator 1, URJ 6 Points Sports Academy West and Ramah Northern California.

The RFP process for Specialty Camp Accelerator II will open in September 2015. To learn more and see the timeline of events visit www.JewishCamp.org/incubator.