Why do people send their kids to camp? A theme that consistently emerges from market research and focus groups with parents is “resiliency.” People want their children to develop into productive self-sufficient members of society. A summer away in a safe, child-centered utopia gives children space to expand their sense of being. Beyond the watchful eyes of their parents they experience the freedom to own their own emergent identities.
So why do parents send their children to Jewish Camp? These parents want their children to grow into global Jewish citizens. Well as the saying goes, “Jews are just like everyone else, just more so.” They see that sending their child to a Jewish mission driven camp will aid their child in becoming even more resilient.
Today is Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. A day in which we celebrate the modern State of Israel. There is no doubt that Israel is the model for how we as a nation strive for independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency. This is just another way of saying national resiliency.
In recent years the Jewish community has spent a tremendous amount of money to ensure that every single child/emergent adult has an experience of Israel. This direct connection to this land, people, and culture of Israel can never be replaced. It is telling that in our recent study Camp Works: The Long-term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp we found that someone who attends overnight Jewish Summer camp is 55% more likely to be very emotionally attached to Israel. Camp plays a critical role in developing the next generation of Jews in Diaspora. Where else can they experience autonomous Jewish space? Where else is the whole community run to the rhythm of Jewish time? Where else do we surround our youth with tremendous Israeli role models? Where else do our memories refract through the prism of layers and layers of communal experience? Well, the answer is Israel, but camp is still doing a great job.
Chag Sameach – Have a very special Yom HaAtzmaut.
– As seen FJC Blog