Studies have shown that Jewish summer camp is one of the most meaningful settings for Jewish children to nurture their identity.
According to a 2022 survey by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, 92 per cent of families said attending summer camp made their child feel more connected to their Jewish identity.
This is why the Azrieli Foundation has engaged the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to operate the Azrieli/PJ Library Campership Award Program to incentivize families to send their kids to Jewish summer camp. Since 2017, the Campership Award Program has provided grants for more than 4,800 first-time campers across Canada and the United States.
The support has had a meaningful impact on kids like Jenny, who lives in a small town in New Brunswick. While her immediate family observes holidays together, Jenny’s mother notes that “the realities of being Jewish are different” than in a large metropolitan area.
She decided to send Jenny to Camp Kadimah (the only Jewish summer camp in Atlantic Canada) after discovering that the Campership Award would subsidize the cost, and in 2022, Jenny had a life-changing summer.
Along with typical camp activities, campers sing Jewish songs, observe Shabbat and incorporate Hebrew words in daily activities. These cultural and religious elements help them connect to their Jewish identity.
Through her experience, Jenny developed a lasting feeling of belonging within the larger Jewish community. She couldn’t wait to return to Kadimah in 2023 and stays connected with her camp friends year-round.
“Her lifeline and her connection to her Judaism, outside of our family, is summer camp,” says Jenny’s mom, adding that her daughter now has the sense of identity to be an ambassador for the Jewish community around her non-Jewish peers.
For Jenny and thousands of others, the Azrieli/PJ Library Campership Awards help build a strong emotional connection to their Jewishness – one that lasts far beyond summer camp.