For the second year in a row, Camp George was one of only a handful of Jewish summer camps in North America to participate in an exciting teen philanthropy pilot program, under the auspices of the Jewish Teen Funders Network. This program teaches our teens the fundamentals of philanthropy, nonprofit
organizations, Tzedakah (charity) and community-based social action. What sets this experience apart from so many other activities and programs about Tikkun Olam (healing the world) is that it transcends the conversation from the ideal to reality. Our C.I.T.’s became a team of young philanthropists, who devised a mission statement, engaged several non-profit agencies to apply for a grant, and donated actual funds to an agency of their choosing after much discussion and debate.
Before they could choose where to target their donation, our C.I.T.’s studied the mission statements of other organizations (including Camp George’s mission!) and articulated their shared core values and goals. What emerged was a powerful mission statement that highlights their sense of obligation to the world around them:
“The Camp George Philanthropy Initiative is a group of Reform Jewish teens that are committed to making a positive change to the lives of other people through philanthropy, awareness and service. Our goal is to partner with non-profit organizations that uphold basic human rights, specifically healthcare, education and recreation. In addressing the emotional, physical and mental-well being of all people, we resolve to maintain the dignity of those whose lives we impact. “
Along the summer’s journey, the C.I.T.’s visited the recipient of last year’s teen philanthropy gift, the Bob Rumball Camp of the Deaf, located just a few kilometers from Camp George. In addition to watching a memorable song-and-dance performance by the resident campers, our C.I.T.’s were mesmerized by the facilities and the special accommodations made to provide a fun-filled summer camp experience for the differently-abled campers who attend. For example, doors swing out instead of in and swim docks have ramps rather than steps — simple changes that ensure all of their campers are able to have the best experience possible.
Following the visit, our C.I.T.’s had follow-up conversations with our potential grantees, asking incisive questions about budgeting, accountability and the number of people affected by each agency’s services. Ultimately, our teen philanthropy group decided to grant their funds to Kids Kicking Cancer, a Detroit-based non-profit that helps children with cancer manage the stress and pain of their disease and treatments through personalized coaching’s instructed by black belt martial artists. These children achieve power, peace and purpose by teaching their deep breathing techniques to others to help them reduce stress.
We are so proud of our C.I.T.’s for making a critical difference in the lives of others, and look forward to continuing this important program for many years to come!
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