Reform/Conservative Camping Partnership Will Engage Jewish Youth Year-Round
The camping movements of the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary have announced a joint initiative to develop a year-round Service Corps program for camp staff alumni. Participants in the Service Corps will apply their experience, talents, and skills to create camp-style programming for North American synagogue youth, and to recruit more children to attend camp.
A significant new grant will be shared equally by the two largest synagogue-based Jewish camping movements in North America. The program will include the training and support of up to 80 young adult educators, who will serve in part-time youth leadership roles at Conservative and Reform congregations throughout North America. The educators will work actively on camp recruitment and will help reenergize the communities they serve through innovative, inspiring, and immersive programming.
This new initiative builds upon the successful model of the Ramah Service Corps, funded by the Foundation for Jewish Camp and begun in 2010 with support from a Covenant Foundation Ignition Grant. It is expected that the expansion of this award-winning program (Slingshot Award 2012-2013) will result in an increase of youth participation in synagogue/community programs and greater enrollment in camp and Israel programs. In addition, Service Corps participants will be more likely to choose a career path in the Jewish community.
Ramah and the URJ Camps will share administration, logistical and developmental aspects of the program, while maintaining individual supervision over their own Service Corps participants.
Paul Reichenbach, URJ Director of Camping and Israel Programs, said of the partnership,
We are thrilled to have this extraordinary cross-movement opportunity to bring the excitement and magic of Jewish summer camp to synagogues across North America. We are confident that Service Corps members will inspire young people toward deeper Jewish engagement. We are profoundly grateful to our funders for their confidence in our camping programs to excite and inspire Jewish youth.”
Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director of the National Ramah Commission, echoed Reichenbach’s sentiments:
The Ramah Service Corps has been instrumental over the last three years in connecting some of our best camp leaders to synagogue life year-round. This is a wonderful opportunity to significantly advance this program, in partnership with URJ Camps. We are also looking forward to seeing the Service Corps participants grow personally and professionally.