The Continuing Value of Jewish Summer Camp

An about-to-be-released study on the benefits of a Jewish camp experience will demonstrate camp is an essential part of the formation of a child’s Jewish identity and an important component in building a strong Jewish community. The study, commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), analyzed areas of adult behavior and attitudes, including synagogue membership, observance of holidays, donating to Jewish charities, and connection to Israel. Findings about alumni include:

  • 45% more likely to attend synagogue at least once a month;
  • 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish federation;
  • 55% more likely to feel very emotionally attached to Israel;
  • 25% more likely to donate to a Jewish charity (as compared to adults who did not attend camp);
  • Camp also creates Jewish community leaders including rabbis, cantors, teachers, and more who cite camp as an influence in their career path.

FJC also reports that during the past summer, almost 10,000 children across North America attended nonprofit Jewish overnight camp through the One Happy Camper program (OHC) – a need-blind cash grant. OHC has attracted over 20,000 kids to Jewish camp for the first time – over 55% of whom would have opted for a non-Jewish summer experience (or staying home staying home) if not for this initiative. Twenty percent of these campers also report camp to be their only Jewish activity and nearly 50% are not affiliated with their local Jewish federation. For the 2010 camp season, FJC distributed $9.6 million to these families through partnerships with local federations, camps, camp movements and other Jewish groups.