Grants available for first time campers to Jewish overnight camps

March 2, 2018

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Elijah Arnowitz is a seventh grader who is already dreaming about camp this summer, which will be his fifth, at Camp Ramah New England.

“It’s torturous to think about it because I miss it so much!” Elijah says. What does he like about camp? “Bunk activities, Shabbat and canteen, as well as “chugs” or elective activities—such as flag football, basketball, cooking, and videography.” Elijah also raves about the camp food, especially Shabbos brownies and Color War cupcakes.

Elijah’s mother, Tami Arnowitz, adds, “Elijah is the best version of himself when he is at camp. Jewish overnight camps are wonderful in that they encourage independence and allow children to explore who they are. I love sending my children somewhere that being Jewish is infused into everything that they do, where being Jewish is joyous and fun.” She adds that in five years of camp, Elijah has made friends in Massachusetts, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Connecticut and those friendships are so meaningful that they have made the effort to take long drives to attend B’nai Mitzvot.

Leila Abrams, a sixth grader who will attend Capital Camps for her fifth summer, says she loves camp because it gives her a chance to spend more time with her friends and get closer to them. Leila says she would encourage kids to go to camp because “It’s really fun and you make a lot of friends there.” One of her favorite things about camp is the lake, which has a trampoline, a cliff, and lots of other very impressive lake toys.

According to Rachel Abrams, Leila’s mother, “The biggest gift my parents gave me was sending me to Jewish camp. Just going to Hebrew School doesn’t cut it. At camp we learn the fun side of being Jewish, integrating Jewish values into activities. It also made me proud of being Jewish.”

Tidewater Jewish Foundation has partnered with The Foundation for Jewish Camp to provide grants for first time campers at Jewish overnight camps through the One Happy Camper program.

Scott Kaplan, TJF president and CEO, says, “Our hope is to encourage and enable more parents to send their children to Jewish camps where they can experience all of the wonderful things that an immersive Jewish camp experience provides. Camp strengthens Jewish identity and commitment to Jewish life and community. This is essential for our future.”

As one parent says, “Going to Jewish overnight camp literally changed the course of my life, in a positive way. I want the same for my children, and for as many children as possible. It can make the world better.”

For more information about Jewish camps or how to receive a grant, visit www.onehappycamper.org or contact Barb Gelb at bgelb@ujft.org.

- Barb Gelb

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