by Cindy Papish Gerber
Special to SNH
Bring on the (kosher) bug juice and light the Havdalah campfire! The Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven offers grants and scholarships through their One Happy Camper Program (OHC). This initiative, made possible through the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), enables children living throughout the Greater New Haven region to enjoy the fun, camaraderie and ruach integral to a Jewish overnight camping experience.
“We’re fortunate to offer a “two-prong program that includes needs-blind incentive grants for first-time campers, as well as needs-based aid for first-time and returning campers,” explains Lisa Stanger, Executive Director of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven. “This approach enables us to reach across a broad spectrum and impact many different families.”
Specifically, this season’s One Happy Camper New Haven program awarded 39 first-time camper incentives that ranged from $500-$1,200, benefitting children from 11 area towns who are attending the following camps this summer: Camp Laurelwood, Camp Airy and Louise, URJ Eisner Camp, URJ Crane Lake, URJ Mitzvah Corp (U.S.-based program), Camp Pardas Chana, Camp Ramah in New England, BBYO Chapter Leadership Training Conference, Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp, Eden Village Camp, Camp Ramah Sports Academy, Camp Avoda, Camp Gan Montreal and Poconos.
Thanks to a first-time incentive grant, nine-year-old Jordan Hass of Orange will attend Camp Avoda in Middleboro, Massachusetts, this summer. Parents David and Lauren Hass “love that kids get to experience Judaism in a camp environment. We are so appreciative that the Jewish Foundation supplies this wonderful resource to members of the New Haven community.”
For those families seeking needs-based financial aid in order to make Jewish overnight camp a reality, One Happy Camper New Haven awarded $15,000 to 26 first-time and returning campers who are attending the following camps this summer: Camp Laurelwood, Camp Chayolei Hamelach, URJ Crane Lake Camp, URJ Eisner Camp, Camp Pardas Chana Montreal, Camp Chomeish, Camp Gan Israel Parkville, Poconos, Detroit and Montreal, Camp Emunah, New York.
“Laurelwood has a generous scholarship program, but needs often exceed availability,” says Ari Golub, Director of Camp Laurelwood. “We are thankful that the Jewish Foundation is able to provide Jewish camping grants and scholarships to supplement what we can offer. Our goal as a community should be to make Jewish camp available to every family.”
Kim and Jeff Math of Wallingford “are very grateful” that the Jewish Foundation One Happy Camper program will allow their three children to attend overnight camp this summer. Sophie (age 10) and Jada Math (14) will return to Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts for a four-week session and Alex (16) will be attending NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) in Israel (through the Jewish Foundation’s Israel Experience Scholarship program). “The application process was easy and the response was quick,” shares Kim Math, who credits her own positive Jewish camping experience as a key factor in her present-day “connection with Judaism.” She “hopes the OHC effort will give our children the meaningful Jewish experiences they need.”
“Multiple studies have shown time and again the impact Jewish camping has on the sustained and positive Jewish identity of our children and teens,” says Rabbi Michael Farbman of Temple Emanuel in Orange.
“I am delighted that the New Haven community supports ALL the campers from our area going to Jewish summer camp… locally or a little further afield. Whether it is a parent raising kids with one income, or a family experiencing financial hardship, we can use communal resources to provide inspiring and exciting summer Jewish experience to our kids. Kol Hakavod to the Jewish Foundation of GNH for leading this very important charge!”
One Happy Camper New Haven is made possible thanks to the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, the Foundation for Jewish Camping (a national organization) and an anonymous local donor.
To find out how you can support this program, or other scholarship needs, contact the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, Lisa Stanger, Executive Director, at (203) 387- 2424 x382, lstanger@jewishnewhaven. org, newhavenjewishfoundation.org. For more information on camping, Israel, and college scholarships offered through the Jewish Foundation go to: jewishnewhaven.org/scholarships.