Grinspoon Holds Annual Camp Conference; Expands to Provide Services to Day Camps

More than 375 camp professionals and board leaders from across North America attended this week’s 2011 Grinspoon Institute Annual Conference to discuss best practices for improving the long-term viability and success of Jewish overnight camp.

The conference theme, “Leaders in the Field” recognizes that the professional and volunteer leaders who are committed to Jewish camp are enjoying a remarkable moment. Jewish camps are forging new ties to enthusiastic alumni, developing high performance governing boards and inspiring new levels of philanthropic investment from people who value our essential role in securing the future well-being of the Jewish people. Jewish Camp is being recognized for having effective positive impact in the formation of life long Jewish identity and affiliation while developing the future leaders of the Jewish community.

During the conference, 11 camps received incentive awards from the Foundation for meeting their goals in the Create A Jewish Legacy program. In four years, this program has resulted in an estimated $50 million in estate based commitments to Jewish overnight camps from over 1900 individuals.

Six years ago, the conference was little more than 35 camp lay and professional leaders gathered in Harold Grinspoon’s living room. Now, with record-setting attendance, including 40% first-time participants, the conference is a national Jewish camp event devoted to strengthening the fundraising and organizational capacity of more than 90 Jewish organizations across the nation, including overnight camps, day camps, day schools and other umbrella groups and special projects.

Beginning in 2012, the Grinspoon institute will provide Jewish day camps with the same mentoring services that have been so transformative to overnight camps. The pilot group of five day camps from 2011 will be joined by 12 additional day camps located from Connecticut to California.

The conference also marked the start of the 2011-12 Grinspoon Institute Fundraiser’s Training (GIFT) program. This year-long program provides specific training to development professionals from affiliated camps. Through an intensive schedule of highly interactive online and face-to-face learning opportunities, GIFT participants will be actively engaged in developing and executing breakthrough projects, personal development plans and overall organizational fundraising plans.

Also during the conference, the Grinspoon Institute Outstanding Philanthropist Award was awarded to Alan Franco whose donations and leadership helped to leverage more than $3 million for URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp (Utica, Mississippi) and who, from his home in New Orleans, LA has been a major supporter for programs in his home town and throughout the Southern USA.

About: The Grinspoon Institute of Jewish Philanthropy, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, offers free consulting services to over 90 nonprofit Jewish camps and other organizations throughout North America in the areas of board development, strategic planning, fundraising and technology for outreach. Over the past six years, affiliated camps self-report collectively raising more than $140 million, of which the Grinspoon Institute’s matching grant programs has leveraged over $60 million in charitable contributions to Jewish camps. These funds have been used for capital improvements, scholarships, expansions, and improvements all for the benefit of Jewish children. Research has shown that the Jewish overnight camp experience has a profound positive impact on the creation of life-long Jewish identity.