Imagine an idyllic, sun-filled adventure full of swimming, sports, arts & crafts and fun with friends. The perfect way to spend a childhood summer, right? Well, all those experiences, and so many more, are available for your kids at Jewish summer camps!

For many families, their child’s first summer at camp is a pivotal experience. And one of the most effective ways of strengthening Jewish identity in young Jews — and giving them a summer to remember — is the experience of Jewish overnight camp. “Camp was so much better than we expected,” says Sherri Cohen, whose 10-year old son Benjamin attended camp Ramah in the Poconos for the first time last summer, and her 8-year old, Jacob, went for a weeklong “taste.” On Visiting Day, Sherri and her husband Daniel were bowled over by the kids’ level of engagement: raising their hands during educational discussions, or enthusiastically taking part in a Shabbat experience by the lake. “The camp really excels in engaging kids in Jewish life on a very deep level, and in a way that they love,” Sherri says. “The kids take incredible ownership of it, with passion and joy.”

While summer camps can run on the expensive side, they are fortunately no longer cost-prohibitive. For the past ten years, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has provided One Happy Camper incentive grants of up to $1000 to families with children attending nonprofit Jewish overnight camps for the first time. This past summer, the Jewish Federation was delighted to give out grants to 294 first-time campers attending 31 different camps. For Sherri and her family, the financial grant helped seal the deal in their decision to send Ben, and her son Jacob next year, to Ramah. “The One Happy Camper grant helps to move the lever a little bit more,” she concludes.

With so many activities competing for children’s time these days, spending a summer outdoors, surrounded by nature in the Poconos, is an incredibly special experience. Whether your child is looking for a valuable Jewish experience or is more interested in traditional camp activities, a Jewish camp is a wonderful place to have a meaningful summer and make lifelong friends. Not sure which camp is right for your family? Check in with our Camp Concierge, Sharon Bromberg, to figure out which program is just right for your child. A summer full of adventure, creative exploration and Jewish learning is awaiting your family in 2018. Visit One Happy Camper now to learn more!

One Happy Camper, a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, is funded locally by Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Neubauer Family Foundation.