Jewish Camps and Youth Israel Experiences
Ohavi Zedek Synagogue recognizes the importance of Jewish summer camp and Israel experiences in developing strong Jewish identities for our children and teenagers .
For more great Jewish camping resources please check out the Foundation for Jewish Camp website.
Jewish Camp and Israel Scholarship Funds
Several scholarship funds have been established at Ohavi Zedek to support children from the Burlington area in Northwest Vermont.
To apply for a 2019 scholarship for Jewish Summer Camp or Israel Summer Experiences please complete the form available here and return it to Amy May before March 1, 2019. Scan and email to [email protected].
To read about some of our previous scholarship recipients’ experiences please read on below.
The Howard Richie Lazarus Jewish Camping Scholarship Fund
In 1985, Eugene (z”l) and Annette Lazarus generously established a perpetual endowment fund in memory of their son, Richie Lazarus (z”l). As an endowment the interest generated by the fund each year is used to help provide scholarship money to allow local children to attend Jewish camps (and will continue to do so for many years to come). Additional contributions help increase the amount available for distributions to our youth each year. To make a contribution to this fund, please send a check to OZ made out to Ohavi Zedek and write “ Lazarus Camp Scholarship Endowment” on the memo line or use our online donation form (select “special funds” and the scholarship from the list of funds).
The Greenberg – Lopkin Jewish Camping Scholarship Fund
Created several years ago in honor of the wedding of Marv and Diane Greenberg’s daughter Nichole and her husband Jon Lopkin (who met at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish Summer Camp!), The Greenberg-Lopkin Jewish Camping Scholarship Fund has been providing scholarship money to help local Vermont children attend Jewish summer camps around the country. To make a contribution to this fund, please send a check to OZ made out to Ohavi Zedek and write “ Greenberg Camp Scholarship Fund” on the memo line or use our online donation form (select “special funds” and the Greenberg-Lopkin scholarship fund from the list of funds).
The Greenberg – Bratspis Israel Youth Trip Scholarship Fund
Thanks to the generosity of Marv and Diane Greenberg a scholarship fund was created in 2011 at Ohavi Zedek, to help Jewish youth in our area pay for educational trips and programs to Israel. The Greenberg-Bratspis Israel Youth Trip Scholarship fund was established in honor of Marv and Diane’s daughter Renee and her husband Jef Bratspis (who met at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish Summer Camp!). To make a contribution to this fund please send a check to OZ made out to Ohavi Zedek and write “Israel Youth Trip Fund” on the memo line or use our online donation form (select “special funds” and the scholarship from the list of funds).
Why Jewish Summer Camps and Israel Programs?
What’s better than the activities, friendships, and communal life of traditional camps? At Jewish summer camps, Jewish values, role models, culture, traditions, and heritage help campers connect to their own identity and the larger Jewish community. Jewish summer camp or Israel programs lay the groundwork for strong Jewish communities and can be a critical element in a Jewish young person’s education. Children who attend Jewish camp or attend Israel programs are statistically more likely to identify as Jewish adults, and actively engage in the Jewish community. As an added benefit, Jewish summer camps are FUN!
How do I pay for these programs?
There are many scholarships available locally. Do not assume you don’t qualify. We do not want cost to be the reason you don’t go to camp or Israel. APPLY. If your child has never been to Jewish camp, The Foundation for Jewish Camps (FJC), One Happy Camper program offers need-blind grants of $1000 to first-time campers. Additionally BunkConnect is open to campers attending nonprofit Jewish overnight camps for the first time whose families meet income criteria. There are also other need based scholarships for many camp and Israel programs.
There are many options for Jewish summer camp. When looking at summer camps, be sure to check out the camp’s philosophy, activities offered, length of sessions, location, and who else you know going or alumni. Below is a partial list of Jewish camping options available in the Northeast. Attending a camp fair is also a good place to start.
- Young Judaea Camp YJ Sprout Lake
- Young Judaea Camp Tel Yehudah
- Camp Ramah
- JCC Camp Kingswood
- Eden Village Camp
- Brandeis Summer High School Programs for Jewish Teens
- 6 Points Jewish Sports Academy
- Camp Eisner
- Camp Pembroke
- Passport NYC
- Camp Jori
- Roots and Trails
- Camp Yavneh
Testimonials from Vermont Kids and Teens
There are many in our community who attend Jewish summer camps. Here is a flavor of some of the camps which were attended by youth in our community over the past few summers in their own words.
Young Judaea Camp Tel Yehudah: TY is dedicated to fun, friendships, learning and social action. Camp Tel Yehudah is the national teen camp of Young Judaea. The dynamic program of experiential education, activism and leadership development, connects teens to Israel and Judaism. Participants enjoy athletics, music, arts and crafts, hiking, performing arts, out-of-camp trips and many other activities. Located on 150 beautiful wooded acres on the banks of the Delaware River in Barryville, New York, Tel Yehudah draws campers and staff from all over the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and the world. All Jewish youth– Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, secular and unaffiliated – are welcome to be a part of TY’s vibrant, pluralistic community.Camp Tel Yehudah offers a range of programs for teens entering grades 9 to 12.You can preview a typical day’s schedule, or learn more about the different programs. Take a look at the specialty area descriptions to learn what activities teens at TY enjoy each day. You can request more information to learn more about TY or you can email your question. Tel Yehudah is more than a camp. The programs provide life-changing experiences that participants will talk about for years to come. “I didn’t think I would ever enjoy myself as much as I did the first time I went to Camp TY but I was wrong because my second summer was even more wonderful than the first. Camp TY will always and forever be one of the most significant things in my life. I can’t wait to go back in a few years as a counselor.” ~Eliana Cohen
Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake: Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in Verbank, NY is Young Judaea’s regional camp for 2nd-8th graders. CYJSL strives to provide a supportive and dynamic environment in which Jewish youth can explore, grow, and mature. Programming aims to strengthen Jewish identity, foster a connection to Israel, create lasting friendships, encourage individual achievement, and heighten self-esteem and leadership skills.This camp is a place where kids connect to Judaism and Israel in a very supportive and nurturing atmosphere. Of course there are sports, arts and crafts, music, dance and drama. Many local kids have attended over the years. Contact Miriam Sturgis for more information [email protected]
6 Points Jewish Sports Academy: 6 Points is a great Jewish sports camp in Greensboro, North Carolina. The camp is on the campus of American Hebrew Academy which is a Jewish boarding school during the year. The dorms are very clean and the facilities are very deluxe. The camp requires that you choose a major and a minor for your time there. The choices for majors are Tennis, Soccer, Lacrosse, Swimming, Baseball, Cheer and Dance, Basketball and Girls Softball. All of the sports areas are state of the art–for example the pool is olympic size, and the fields are all taken care of. You do your sport major and 2 electives each day except Saturday. You can choose between Basketball, Fitness and Conditioning, Flag Football, Kayaking, Music, Rock Climbing, Flag Rugby, Mini Soccer, Swimming and Water Games, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Volleyball and Zumba. The thing I liked about 6 Points is it¹s a lot of sports and a lot of playing. Also the campus is just so nice– from the dorms to the fields. There are a few connections to Judaism at 6 points. Shabbat is celebrated starting on Friday with a nice dinner and hour long service. Another thing is that all the food is kosher. The thing that stands out for me in this camp is the amount of sports we play each day. It is just extremely fun for me to be playing sports almost all day. ~ Louis Berlind
Camp Ramah: I have been grateful for the opportunity to go to Camp Ramah. Each summer I’ve gained many things. Friends, vocabulary, stories, skills, and so much more. Camp is like a home away from home. Over my summers I’ve gotten to try archery, silk, ceramics, basketball, climbing, swimming, boating, and so much more. One of my favorite camp memories was when my friends and I were in our clubhouse and a lightning storm appeared and all of us got together and played games, sang songs, had a talent show, and so much more; that was a night we all bonded.
The sense of community is seen everywhere throughout the camp whether its singing and dancing in the cafeteria or Friday night services in the grove. Everybody gets dressed in our fancy clothes for Shabbos, we have a big camp wide service under the trees, and proceed to a wonderful dinner. We light the candles, say the prayers and are shomer shabbas (following all the rules of shabbat).
Camp Ramah is a place I love to go because of the amazing people I meet, the Jewish community and the opportunities that never cease to amaze. I met my best friend there, I keep in touch with my Israeli friends and I can’t wait for next summer and all it brings. ~ Abby Rosenthal
Passport NYC: Passport NYC is a specialized overnight camp for teens, with focus on five art specialties– culinary, music industry, musical theatre, film, and fashion. This summer I returned as a musical theatre major. For three weeks I was able to experience what it’s like to be a working professional in the theatre district. It was incredible to rekindle friendships that I made last year, as well as meet new people in an environment that I was now familiar with.
Everyday included a delicious breakfast with the entire camp before splitting off into our various majors. The musical theatre group, which I participated in, would begin the day at Dany studios, a block away from Times Square, and in the most thriving part of the theatre district. We would kick off class with an amazing dance warm up and then launch right into learning new choreography, perfecting our solo pieces, and memorizing scenes. Something extra cool we did this year was make a music video for the pop song “Good Time”. Our teacher Chris taught us the choreography in the studio and we filmed it at landmark sights throughout the city. Between Broadway shows, classes, sight visits, and last minute trips to hidden cafés, we had an amazing time!
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to return for Passport NYC’s final year. This camp created a safe space to explore Judaism through a variety of options on Shabbat, called “shabbatons”.
On Friday night we could choose to participate in either an orthodox service, a reform service, or a spiritual reflection. It was also incredibly interesting to be at a Jewish camp during all the conflict in Israel this summer. Many counselors and campers, including my roommate, lived in Israel. All together I had one of the best summers of my life.
Camp Eisner: I had a great Jewish experience at Camp Eisner! It was great to have three weeks of being with Jewish people, and learning different ways that people do different things in Judaism. I felt a big connection with all of the people around me.
At camp, we would say a prayer before we ate, we would say a prayer after we ate, and of course we would celebrate Shabbat every Friday evening. We would have the Shabbat services in an outdoor sanctuary, and each Shabbat, a different unit (an age group) would lead services. On Shabbat, everyone at Eisner camp would wear a white shirt or top. Shabbat was so wonderful and peaceful.
I love the activities at Eisner camp, especially maccabiah. Maccabiah is basically color war. It was super fun! I loved the people in my bunk, and my counselors. We had such a strong bond with each other.
My experience at Eisner Camp was great! Thank you so much for your support! You helped me have one of the best summers ever!!! ~Rae Kanarick
Camp Pembroke: My Camp, Camp Pembroke, is a girls Jewish camp. We have campers from all over the country and some from Israel. For me, one of the coolest parts of camp is getting to know people from all different places. I also love camp because of all my friends. The best part of camp is making new friends that you get to know so well and know will always be there even if they live far away.
The activities at camp are awesome too. They have water skiing, cooking , drama, arts and crafts, tennis, archery and more. Every Friday night we have Shabbat services which include songs and a delicious Shabbat dinner afterwards. On Saturday morning we get to wake up late and have services later that day.
I love camp and think it’s a great way to make your summer AMAZING! ~Violet Bluestein
Camp tuition for these campers was partially covered by a generous scholarship from the Howard “Richie” Lazarus and Greenberg-Lopkin, Jewish Camp Scholarship funds.