By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Those summers I spent at Camp High Point in the beautiful Catskills were filled with fun and friends, from the time we rose from our bunks in the morning until we fell into them at night, ready for sleep after full days that were the seeds of cherished memories.
I loved camp for the sports, the games, the color war, and, yes, the silly kid hijinks too. What I remember most about Jewish overnight summer camp, though, was the sense of inclusion and belonging to the Jewish community that the experience gave me. Long after my camp days ended, I credit camp for fostering my own Jewish identity. Many adults with fond memories of going to Jewish camp during long-ago summers tell stories that are similar to mine.
The power of camp for nurturing a child’s Jewish identity and fostering lasting bonds with Jewish community is why your Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle provides need-based scholarships for local children to attend Jewish overnight summer camp. Scholarship applications for the 2021 camp season are now open. I encourage parents to give their children the priceless gift of a camp experience and apply for a scholarship.
This year, the camp experience will be especially priceless. Because of the pandemic, many camps were forced to close in the summer of 2020. For the upcoming summer, our three local camps—Camp Solomon Schechter, Sephardic Adventure Camp, and URJ Camp Kalsman—are gearing up to provide the best possible in-person camping experience while keeping our kids safe.
Camps in Washington are awaiting word from the state on whether they will be allowed to reopen. Under the leadership of Schechter Executive Director Zach Duitch, the state’s camps—Jewish and non-Jewish alike—have organized a new group, the Washington State Camping Coalition (WSCC). The WSCC is spearheading an effort to educate state leaders about the importance of camp and how camps can, indeed, run safely this summer. The Federation is supporting this work by providing strategic guidance and support to the leaders of the WSCC.
Our scholarship program is made possible by many generous donors and legacy supporters. Sending children to overnight camp can be a big financial stretch for many families. Scholarships lower that cost barrier and enable more children to have this life-changing experience. Camp helps kids form relationships, with old and new friends, and with their Jewish heritage—the beautiful panoply of values, stories, and traditions that are the fabric of Jewish life. A strong community is built on that foundation of relationships.
Community, Kehilla/Areivut, is one of the core values that underpin your Federation’s work. Our investment in overnight camp scholarships is an investment in Jewish continuity, to build a future where our grandchildren can grow up, carry the torch of Jewish life, and invest in a vibrant Jewish future for their grandchildren.
Give the gift of Jewish overnight summer camp to your children. Help spread the word. Please apply today. Help our kids make camp memories like those that so many of us cherish!