Mah Nishtanah: How is Jewish Camp Different From All Others?

Posted by: Audra Martin on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

Mah Nishtanah: How is Jewish Camp Different From All Others?

It is true, every single year for over 20 years, I have run a Jewish summer camp. And, yes, when I write about sending your kids to Jewish camps, yes, it will sound like I am advertising the JCC’s camps. Let’s face it, I am. A bit. But I spend every single summer at Jewish camp, because I believe in them. The JCC believes in them. We believe they are great experiences for your kids and we believe Jewish camp is an important component of Jewish life. Statistics show that camp experiences are one of the top three indicators that our kids will remain engaged with Jewish life.

Whether it is the JCC camp or another, let me tell you what is so great about Jewish camp

As we can all attest, our contemporary lives are busy and everyday our kids are surrounded by American culture. A Jewish camp experience allows us just a few weeks to enmesh our kids in Jewish experiences and Jewish friends. While our kids are running, playing, swimming, traveling, busy with arts and science and all the camp fun, they are doing it surrounded by Jewish friends, Jewish values and traditions.

Shlichim: Real Life Israelis at JCamp
Many Jewish camps, including the JCC’s, invite Shlichim to be a part of the camp schedule. Shlichim are Israeli citizens and trained camp specialists joining the camp staff to forge connections with our children. They add Israeli culture to every day’s programming, including Hebrew, Israeli arts, music and dance. They genuinely deepen the Jewish atmosphere that inculcates camp.

Shlichim live with host families and integrate into our community.

Jewish Traditions: Jewish Culture
Universally, Jewish camp starts with a raucous rendition of Hatikvah, the Israeli anthem expressing “Hope”. Meals begin with an equally spirited “Hamotzi”. Hebrew, music, dance are integrated into each day. Ga-ga, a high energy Israel ball game, becomes a normal part of camp and sport lexicon. The more players the better!

Israeli Days are common with the sights and sounds of our homeland. Jewish camps takes the opportunity to share what Shabbat and life looks like in Israeli homes.

Why is Jewish Camp Different from all others?
Culture, values, traditions are equally balanced with fun, friends, learning and exercise. Jewish camps – residential and day camps – fill a fundamental need in our community: providing a positive Jewish environment and serving as a launch pad for engagement in Jewish life.



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