Jeremy Fingerman had his first day of work yesterday as C.E.O. of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. While enjoying his favorite blend of Wissotzky tea we had the opportunity to catch up with him and hear his thoughts for FJC going forward.

Like his predecessor, Jerry Silverman, Fingerman has come to the Foundation from the world of consumer products. And it is clear his brand marketing background will greatly influence not only how he envisions his role, but the work of the Foundation itself in the future.

For make no mistake about it – in today’s day Jewish camping is not only a brand but in Fingerman’s view “an icon brand – and icons need to be renewed and made relevant for today’s consumer. Consumer product companies all understand the need for a continuing cycle of freshness and course correction. They need to experiment and release new products while continually monitoring and adjusting. The Foundation for Jewish Camp is no different.”

Beginning with a listening and learning process leading up to next month’s Leaders Assembly, Fingerman seeks to understand the Foundation’s performance across the different constitutiences it serves; how the Foundation can work better with not only camp administrators but their boards and how this leads to added value for the community. Fingerman sees the “Jewish community at large as the prime stakeholder; camp as a means to an end to strengthen the (Jewish) community.” He is convinced, “Increase the number of kids with summer camp experience and the community benefits”.

While this listening process will be important in formulating new directions, one thing he already sees is that the Foundation should be able to assist camps in providing services more efficiently. He was referring to existing needs but why stop there. As an example, one assistant camp director told me, perhaps FJC could follow the model of the American Camp Association by developing an umbrella marketing program all member camps could benefit from. A senior professional at another camp suggested the Foundation could serve as a shadkan, connecting potential donors to camps they may not be familiar with. When I mentioned this to Fingerman, he was certainly receptive.

Today, Fingerman clearly sees the Foundation as embarking on Stage 3 of growth – where they have the resources that will allow them to dream about how to impact the Jewish community.

The first stage was the initial development of the organization with the prime impetus coming from the two co-founders, Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner. Second stage was the Foundation’s strong upward trajectory directed by Jerry Silverman. They have now entered, Stage 3, which Fingerman sees as a “new day; where they can build on the strength of what was both visioned and accomplished.”

He continues, “This is our time to take the foundation, and thought leadership, to the next level; to engage the camping world in a deeper way; to allow more kids to have the experience. A noble mission; an exciting time.”

We couldn’t agree more.