The challenges and triumphs of the past year illuminated just how impactful in-person experiences can be, especially for kids. That’s one reason why JewishColumbus has supported (and continues to support) opportunities for Columbus kids to attend Jewish summer camps.
“Jewish overnight camp gives kids the ability to be surrounded by other Jewish peers,” says Abby Harris Holmes, Community Impact Coordinator at JewishColumbus. “It allows kids to be Jewish together, and that’s a pretty extraordinary thing and a pretty unique thing since we’re such a minority in the world. Jewish overnight camp allows kids to live their Jewish lives in a way that’s not overt, but it’s just inherently built into the experience.”
“Jewish overnight camp gives kids the ability to be surrounded by other Jewish peers.” — Abby Harris Holmes, Community Impact Coordinator at JewishColumbus
According to One Happy Camper, Jewish summer camp experiences have lifelong impacts. Adults who attended Jewish summer camps as children are:
- 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish Federation,
- 37% more likely to light candles regularly for Shabbat,
- 45% more likely to attend synagogue at least once per month,
- And 55% more likely to feel very emotionally attached to Israel.
These data are clear, which is why the summer of 2020 was so disheartening for many Jewish families: Jewish summer camp didn’t happen because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“Summer 2020 ended up being a make-or-break year for some camps. They rely heavily on tuition to keep the camps open and keep the lights on,” says Harris Holmes. “Camps really struggled for the year of 2020, and we were really proud to be able to send financial support to every camp that JewishColumbus campers would have gone to in the summer of 2020.”
“Camps really struggled for the year of 2020, and we were really proud to be able to send financial support to every camp that JewishColumbus campers would have gone to in the summer of 2020.” — Abby Harris Holmes, Community Impact Coordinator at JewishColumbus
With no opportunities to send kids to camp in 2020, JewishColumbus reallocated those funds to directly support Jewish summer camps and prevent their financial collapse. Thanks to efforts from JewishColumbus and like-minded organizations and individuals, Jewish summer camps are back in full force for summer 2021.
Moreover, any funds that were allocated to Jewish summer camp scholarships that remained from the 2020 budget rolled over into 2021, allowing JewishColumbus to support more than 100 kids on their journey to summer camp this year.
“JewishColumbus has two different funding opportunities for families that want to send their kids to a Jewish summer camp,” says Harris Holmes. “The first is through One Happy Camper. They provide need-blind grants exclusively for first-time campers. This helps families get their foot in the door to experience all that Jewish summer camps have to offer.
“We also have the JewishColumbus Jewish Overnight Camp Scholarship, which is a need-based scholarship designed for returning campers,” says Harris Holmes. “For summer 2022, applications for these scholarships will be available December 2021. The Columbus Jewish Foundation, a JewishColumbus affiliate, houses a number of special purpose endowment funds designated for overnight Jewish camp experiences. If summer camp is your passion and you’d like to establish a fund, then please contact Jessica Grisez.”
These grants and scholarships help families afford opportunities to send their kids to one of more than a dozen Jewish overnight camps, such as Camp Livingston, Came Wise, G.U.C.I., Emma Kaufmann Camp, Camp Ramah, Camp Stone and so many more.
“JewishColumbus loves camp,” says Harris Holmes. “We love supporting camp, and we feel like camp is a really significant steppingstone for Jewish families in Columbus to help solidify Jewish identity in children.”
“JewishColumbus loves camp. We love supporting camp, and we feel like camp is a really significant stepping stone for Jewish families in Columbus to help solidify Jewish identity in children.” — Abby Harris Holmes, Community Impact Coordinator at JewishColumbus