The URJ’s Summer Season is Almost Here!

by Paul Reichenbach and Miriam Chilton

Not surprisingly, we always begin to feel a certain level of anxiety as we approach the URJ’s summer season. Each year our focus shifts from our winter “job” to our summer “job”-insuring the health and safety of nearly 10,000 campers and 1,500 young adult counselors, as well as 2,000 participants and their leaders traveling throughout Israel and Europe. Our anxiety is quelled by the fact that each of these participants will experience a true gift this summer: joyous living immersed in an intentionally Jewish environment in which fun and meaning will be interwoven. Influenced by positive role models, our young people will enhance their self-esteem, learn independence, acquire new skills, build lifelong friendships and strengthen their Jewish identity.

Two new URJ camps will celebrate their inaugural summer in 2014. 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, to be housed at Governors Academy in Newbury, MA, will provide opportunities for young people to explore science and technology in a Jewish environment. Camp Harlam Day Camp, a strategic foray into day camping designed to complement the Reform Movement’s focus on youth engagement, will create exciting new opportunities for outreach to young Jewish families and provide a gateway into Jewish camp for hundreds of children.

This summer, we’re also proud to be sending increasing numbers of young people to Israel. During the next eight weeks, Kesher Birthright Israel trips will provide nearly 1,000 young adults with their first taste of Am Yisrael, while another nearly 600 teens on NFTY in Israel programs will experience Israel in the coming weeks in ways that will both deepen and challenge their understanding of themselves and their Jewish homeland.

Lastly, dozens of Reform young people will spend time this summer devoted to their social justice principles as participants in URJ Mitzvah Corps and RAC programs. Precisely because of these students, and the thousands of others who will live, play, study, travel and volunteer all while embracing and strengthening their Judaism, we are well able to handle any seasonal anxiety we may be feeling right about now.

To follow some of the incredible happenings this summer, sign up to receive Clipboard, a weekly compendium of the best stories, pictures and videos from our summer programs: our 13 camps, NFTY in Israel, EIE, Mitzvah Corps and more.

Paul Reichenbach is the Director Camp and Israel Programs for the Union for Reform Judaism. Miriam Chilton is Director of Strategy, Finance and Operations for Youth, Camp and Israel Programs.

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