Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
On the first day of school, many of our children are already counting the number of days until summer vacation. Some of these children are merely looking forward to days absent of homework. Others are looking forward to summer camp and reuniting with friends they haven’t seen since last summer.
Jewish summer camp has a special place in the hearts of those who have been there. It is said to be one of the essentials for encouragement and enhancement of Jewish identity for our youth. The benefits of Jewish summer camp are endless, but here are just a few:
An extension of community Parents work hard to make their children feel a part of the Jewish community. We send them to day school or sign them up for Hebrew school. They belong to youth groups and attend holiday functions with other Jewish families. Summer camp is an extension of this community we desire for our children, yet it is created separately and independently from what they have at home. The unique environment of camp is an extended family that is uniquely their own.
Another pathway to Jewish learning Amidst all the activities and excitement that is summer camp, your children will be learning. Old traditions become new, and campers embrace their heritage with joy. Jewish camps spend a considerable amount of time weaving Jewish values into their daily routine. From what they are eating to how they treat others, from the environment to caring for animals – our children learn to live “Jewishly”.
Jewish identity inspired Watch out – your children may return from camp encouraging your family to take on more observances. When they are at Jewish camp, our children connect with Judaism in a magical way and being Jewish becomes fun. Allow their passion to light a fire in your home.
Increasing independence Every mom wonders if her children would remember to brush their teeth, pick their clothes up off the floor, or sit down while they are eating dinner if she wasn’t there to tell them. When they are at camp, our children uncover a newfound independence, and their ability to step up to the plate may surprise us. When we send our children off for the summer, it will be someone else who returns in their place.
Jewish summer camp provides short-term and long-term benefits for our children. The immediate joy and pleasures of being at camp continue on long after they have returned home. Years after their summer camp experiences have ended, our children are still talking about them. They are leading Jewish lives greatly enhanced from their time at summer camp. They are engaged in Jewish issues and observances that were largely influenced by summer camp.
We all benefit from sending our children to Jewish summer camp.