Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why Send Your Kids to Jewish Summer Camp?

After reading this great post on"Jewish Hogwarts" at the Rebbetzin's Husband it got me to thinking...

(To summarize, he compares Jewish summer camp to Hogwarts...Harry Potter discovers, when he attends Hogwarts, that there are others just like him! For many kids, going to Jewish summer camp is that same eye-opening experience.)

While here at OSRUI, I definitely think a lot about the choices that parents make when they decide to send their kids to this camp versus any other summer camp experience. We rabbis spend a lot of time discussing recruitment strategies, how to encourage our parents to send their kids here, and bemoaning the fact that we can't get more kids to join us here at our favorite summer spot.

To me, of course, it's a no-brainer. Summer is the time to connect with Jewish life. With the incredible opportunity to expand our Jewish horizons so accessible, I can't imagine how my kids would NOT go to Jewish summer camp.

It's a chance for them to meet other Jewish kids from all over.
It's a chance for them to see that Judaism is not limited to their home synagogue or even to their home!
It's a chance to learn in a totally informal environment about the joys of living a Jewish life.
It's a chance for them to see amazing Jewish role models in the staff who work so closely with each of our campers.
It's a chance to gain a sense of independence about their Jewish identity, realizing that they can "do Jewish" without the direct impetus of their parents. And that they can control that Jewish activity in some way.

Why NOT send your kids to Jewish camp????

And that's my Tuesday Torah. What's yours?

8 comments:

Jack said...

20 years of Ramah- I am jealous that you still get to go to camp.

Vered said...

I send my kids to a private Jewish day school. The cost is enormous, especially since we live in a city that has a great public school system... but it's worth it! So I completely agree.

John Sklar said...

It sure worked for me. My kids spent the whole year waiting for camp... They talked about camp all year and they brought the camp culture home with them.

SuperRaizy said...

Camp is a great way to show children the beauty and joy of being part of a Jewish community. I just wish that more philanthropists would subsidize the cost of camps so that more children could participate.

Another meshugannah mommy said...

My kiddo is going to a Jewish camp - not OSRUI, but not too far from there!!! Honestly, the CAmpership program in Chicago helped to make this an easy choice for us! Plus, I was on staff there many moons ago, so I am very comfortable with the choice. After a rotten Hebrew School year, I am glad he's going there.

Sharon said...

Jewish summer camp, and OSRUI, were my choices and look what it got me two rabbis (you & Michael) and one rabbinic student. It is truly a choice we made and it seems to have worked. Some parents never get it. I remember the director of OSRUI explaining to a mother that her son (who she said couldn't go to OSRUI because it interfered with baseball) that the chances of him becoming a major league player were slim, but he would always be Jewish. Today that man has only nominal involvement in the Jewish community. Camp alone will not do it though. There needs to be a Jewish committment in the home.
Your Mom

Rivster said...

Ima's Ima -- that is precisely the reasoning we give to parents at the start of the school year. Baseball is for now, but Jewish is forever! And they are starting to get it.

Five-and-a-half weeks 'til URJ Camp Newman and counting...

Princess Sara said...

I only went to OSRUI for two years (Tiferet Studio), but I miss it! After some disastrous experiences as a Jew at Girl Scout camp--somewhere between getting in trouble for refusing to say grace to Jesus, getting told by nine-year-olds that I was going to hell, and actually getting ganged up on physically by a group of fellow campers who took my religion as a personal affront, I decided that my own children would NOT be going to Girl Scout camp--going to a camp where being Jewish was not only acceptable, but perfectly normal, was the best thing that could have happened to me. (And I really miss the friday night dances and the Judaica Bowl!)