December 5, 2022

Give Your Child the Gift of Jewish Camp this Hanukkah

Tracy Levine Director, One Happy Camper NJ

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without camp. Not only did it make me feel more connected to my Jewish identity, but it provided the space for me to be independent and grow my confidence, all while living my fondest memories and developing life-long friendships. The lake at camp is still my favorite place on earth!” 

We recently had the chance to catch up with some of our very first recipients of a Greater MetroWest One Happy Camper grant (then known as the Campership Incentive Grant) more than ten years later. We were so moved to hear of the far-reaching and lasting impact of the Jewish overnight camp experience. One of those campers was my daughter Julie (now 23 and living in NYC), who has been a key inspiration for my role as Director of One Happy Camper NJ, Federation’s Jewish camp initiative – and is the author of the quote above. 

During our annual Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table sharing things from that past year that we are grateful for, it’s always apparent that camp has been so integrally woven through Julie’s life – through the years of being a camper, subsequent years as a counselor, and experiences that have extended beyond the physical boundaries of camp during college and after graduation.  

Thankful for camp friends… 

Thankful for visiting my camp friends at (fill-in-college) or (fill-in-country) 

Thankful for going on Birthright with camp friends… 

Thankful to be living in NYC near my camp friends… 

I think you see what I mean by a common theme! And yes, even after becoming a world traveler – studying abroad in Italy with weekend trips to countless countries, a month in Ghana, experiencing Israel, and more, and now living her best post-college life in NYC – the lake at camp is still Julie’s favorite place on earth. 

Especially after the impact of COVID these past few years, person-to-person interactions and relationships are more important than ever. We’ve all had enough technology, zoom, facetimes etc. to last us for years! And while we’ve treasured the family-togetherness, gaining independence is beneficial for both kids and their parents. 

This Hanukkah, consider giving your child the gift of Jewish camp – it will pay dividends in spades in the most amazing of ways. Meeting new friends, enjoying exciting activities (and trying new ones – you’ll be surprised!), connecting with Judaism in fun ways, disconnecting from technology (kids say this is one of the BEST parts of camp) – all with the guidance of dedicated counselors and professional staff, in a safe and supportive environment. With so many amazing options, from traditional to specialty camps, and loads of session options, there is sure to be a great fit for your child. And think of us as your personal shoppers – we’re here to help you pick out the perfect camp.

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