Camp Harlam Receives its Largest Gift Ever

By Aaron Selkowgirls hug

As camp’s 56th season approaches, we are busy preparing in all the usual ways: facility improvements and construction projects are reaching completion, program planning and scheduling is getting closer to being finalized, and our staff members have already started their training in advance of the campers’ arrival in one month. While this normal activity continues, our camp’s leadership (including amazing volunteers) is working hard to help make sure that the future at Camp Harlam looks just as bright.

Many people have heard about and supported our fund development efforts in the last two years that has included major renovation of our Girls Camp cabins and living areas, the addition of brand-new program assets and other capital projects as part of our master site plan. At the same time, however, we have been dedicated to addressing the challenge of affordability for camp families by expanding options for scholarship. The start (and growth) of the Mitch Perlmeter Scholarship Fund, the creation of the James & Linda Wimmer Scholarship Fund, and the continued commitment of our camp to earmark significant scholarship dollars from our annual budget have all made the prospect of sending a child to camp just a little bit easier. Along with the generosity of our partners at URJ congregations throughout the region and gifts from Jewish Federations and foundations that supplement what we can offer, many families have been able to make Camp Harlam a reality for their children.

Despite this hard work and measureable success, we know that it’s not been enough. There are still many families that we cannot afford to serve, and even for those families that can make camp work, the longer-term sustainability of that commitment is hardly ever easy. With that challenge clearly in our sites we set out to identify more assets to offer. Now due to the incredible generosity of the Weidhorn Family Foundation, we can share that there’s a major boost coming beginning for the 2015 camp season.

The Weidhorn Family Foundation, based in Manalapan, NJ, has made the largest gift in Camp Harlam’s history by establishing a $1,000,000 endowment that will support the Weidhorn Scholarship Program. As you can read from the following press release, the program will provide families with multiple children attending camp significant financial relief, and will do so over more than one year (if the same number of children continue to attend). More details and information about the program will be shared publically in the coming months, but there’s no question that this initiative will make an impact for years to come. Peter Weidhorn (the President of the Foundation) and his family have had a long history with Camp Harlam, and their philanthropy is truly inspirational.

Our thanks go out to the Foundation and, once again, to the many volunteers and donors that have such a big part of this effort overall.

For Immediate Release:

Camp Harlam Recieves Largest Gift Ever 

Bala Cynwyd, PA | May 21, 2014          Camp Harlam, the Union for Reform Judaism’s regional overnight camp based in Pennsylvania, announced today that it has received the largest gift in its history.  The Weidhorn Family Foundation of Manalapan, New Jersey, has donated $1,000,000 to fund an endowment supporting needs-based scholarships for families with multiple children attending Camp Harlam.

Aaron Selkow, director of Camp Harlam, said, “We couldn’t be more thankful for this extraordinary gift.  Camp Harlam, and Jewish residential camp in general, has a profound impact on the Jewish identity of its campers and staff.  It is one of the most effective tools we have for promoting Jewish continuity, and a great answer to some of the findings of the recent Pew Study.  But affordability is an issue for most camps, including ours.  This tremendous investment by the Weidhorn Family Foundation immediately helps us to break down the cost barrier for another segment of our community, and will enable more families, and more children from those families, to benefit from the Harlam experience.  This amazing act of tzedekah will have a far-reaching effect on Harlam campers, their families and the Jewish community as a whole.”

The Weidhorn Scholarship Program will directly address affordability, specifically for families with more than one child at camp.  Under the Program, families with two or more children attending camp will receive scholarship money for the duration of their years as campers.  This sustained needs-based scholarship program will complement two other existing funds – the Mitch Perlmeter Scholarship Fund and the James & Linda Wimmer Scholarship Fund – that have allowed Camp Harlam to assist families in need.

A meaningful percentage of campers attending Camp Harlam receive scholarship assistance.  This aid comes from Camp Harlam itself, individual congregations, congregational sisterhood groups, and local Jewish Federations, such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Peter Weidhorn, president of the Foundation, immediate past chair of the Union for Reform Judaism, and vice-chair of the Foundation for Jewish Camp said, “We were very fortunate several years ago to be able to send our two children to Camp Harlam.  For many families, though, cost is an obstacle.  We believe it is critical to remove that obstacle, especially for families with multiple children, to help as many families as possible to experience Camp Harlam.  We know it will change their lives, and those of future generations.  We also hope our gift will motivate others who care about the Jewish future to think about what they can do to help Camp Harlam.”

Rosanne Selfon, chair of the Camp Harlam Council, said, “We are beyond grateful for this incredible act of philanthropy by the Weidhorn Family Foundation.  This will truly change lives by making the Harlam experience available to children and families for whom affordability is an issue. This gift is beautifully modeling our core Jewish value of tzedekah by assisting those families that seek to provide their children with the Harlam experience to be able to do so, without regard to financial circumstances.  The entire Camp Harlam community appreciates this extraordinary commitment and legacy.”

These scholarship programs are part of Harlam’s comprehensive development efforts, which include a capital campaign designed, as well as legacy and other estate planning programs.  Camp Harlam’s current capital campaign priority is its “Build A Bunk Campaign,” which is focused on the renovation of all cabins in the girls village and the construction of the Fendrick Leadership cabins for senior staff.  To discuss capital, scholarship or legacy development opportunities, please call Campaign Chairs Dan Pliskin, Alan Prushan or David Olinsky  or Rachel Steinberg (RSteinberg@URJ.org), development coordinator, through the Camp Harlam office at 610-668-0423.  To learn more about Camp Harlam and how to apply for a scholarship for one of its summer programs, please call the camp office or visit www.URJCampHarlam.org.

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