TBE’S QUICK REFERENCE TO (MOSTLY SLEEP-AWAY) JEWISH SUMMER CAMP
Attending Jewish summer camp is an enriching growth experience for that helps children develop Jewish identity and self-confidence.
Campers make friendships that last a lifetime.
Rabbi Whinston and the TBE Youth Engagement Task Force strongly encourage kids and parents to try a summer at camp.
Temple Beth Emeth especially supports the Reform Movement’s 14 camps, all run by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).
The camps on the front of this page provide learning experiences most consistent with the values of Temple Beth Emeth.
Also ask about camper-ship opportunities from TBE Sisterhood and from Rabbi Whinston!
URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) ~ osrui.urjcamps.org
OSRUI is the URJ regional camp affiliated with Temple Beth Emeth, and serves much of the upper Midwest. Rabbi Levy has served on faculty for many summers, and 10 or more TBE kids go here each summer. The oldest Reform Jewish summer program in North America, this large camp serves more than 1,000 campers each summer living in multiple separate “villages.” OSRUI offers programs for children entering grades 3-10, with sessions ranging from 5 days to 7 weeks. Varied programs focus on different interests and skill sets, including Kibbutz life, the arts, Hebrew immersion, and more. Activities range from archery and the Alpine Tower to drama, photography, and waterskiing. Camp fills quickly once registration opens in the fall, especially for the older grades in which most campers are returning from previous summers.
URJ Kutz Camp ~ kutz.urjcamps.org
NFTY’s Kutz Campus in Warwick, NY, is the summer home of the NFTY Leadership Experience, although not all campers are active in NFTY (the Reform movement’s youth group). For kids entering grades 9-12, the camp offers a more flexible structure and more independence than the regional camps do. Participants choose a “major,” or key focus area, and build their own schedule of classes around it. Participants live in dorm-style halls, sharing space with peers from around North America. The NFTY Leadership Experience is designed for teens that are looking for a challenging and exciting summer program that will enhance their skills in a specific area of interest. The camp aims to foster a deeper connection to living an intentionally Jewish life made richer because of the personal growth that takes place at Kutz.
URJ 6 Points Sports Academy ~ sports.urjcamps.org
6 Points Sports Academy, located in Greensboro, NC, offers a Jewish sports camp experience to youth from across North America entering grades 4-11. Campers receive high quality athletic instruction in a Reform Jewish environment. Young athletes don’t have to choose between the fun of classic Jewish summer camp and the athletic training to succeed in their chosen sport. Two-week sessions offer training in in one primary sport and two cross-conditioning electives. For a well-rounded camp experience, campers also participate in traditional camp activities, learning sports and life skills from professional coaches and Jewish counselors.
URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy ~ scitech.urjcamps.org
6 Points Sci-Tech Academy is about asking big questions and finding real answers. It is the only Jewish science and technology camp, serving young Jewish scientists and innovators entering grades 5-9. On the campus of the Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA (near Boston), campers develop hypotheses, perform experiments and test out new technologies within a supportive, vibrant Jewish community. Two-week sessions include instruction in robotics and engineering, video game design, environmental science, digital media productive, and a variety of electives.
URJ Regional Camps, Mitzvah Corps, Israel Programs & More ~ urj.org/youth
The Union for Reform Judaism also offers a variety of other summer programs for youth of all ages. High schoolers may be interested in adventures in Israel or the social-action-oriented Mitzvah Corps. If OSRUI isn’t right for younger children, there are 11 other regional camps. TBE members have attended Goldman Union Camp Institute (Zionsville, IN), Camp George (Seguin, Ontario, Canada), Eisner Camp (Great Barrington, MA), Greene Family Camp (Bruceville, TX), and others.
TBE staff can connect you to member families with experience at all of these camps – just ask!
While these camps are not affiliated with the Reform Movement, several TBE families have found them to be nurturing communities that can be a good fit for kids who might not choose a URJ camp.
If you have questions about these camps, TBE staff can connect you to members familiar with them.
Camp Tavor ~ www.camptavor.org
Camp Tavor is a Habonim Dror camp located in Three Rivers, MI, about three hours from Ann Arbor.
The Tavor program centers on Zionism and cooperative living, featuring all the classic camp activities as well as Israeli cultural experiences.
This smaller camp serves between 100 and 200 campers each session and cultivates a warm, supportive, and nurturing atmosphere.
While there is no focus on religious observance, food is kosher.
Camp Tamarack ~ tamarackcamps.com
Camp Tamarack is a large, non-denominational Jewish camp located in Ortonville, MI, for boys and girls entering grades 2-11.
It serves campers with a wide range of Jewish backgrounds and affiliations.
Tamarack combines a variety of camp activities and outdoor adventures with Jewish culture.
Campers are divided into villages based on gender and age.
Each session includes age-appropriate trips to introduce camping and hiking.
Tamarack offers options for more rustic camping through outpost camps and travel trips for high school students.
Camp Raanana ~ www.jccannarbor.org/camp-raanana/about-camp-raanana/
The JCC of Greater Ann Arbor operates a lovely day camp for kids entering grades K-8.
Located on Cedar Lake, with bus transportation from the JCC, the camp features swimming, boating, sports, arts, and weekly Shabbat celebrations.
Older campers also learn outdoor skills.
Most TBE kids seeking Jewish day camp opt for Raanana.
Camp Gan Israel ~ www.jewmich.com/camp
Chabad of Ann Arbor operates this day camp at Clonlara School on Jewett Road for children ages 4 to 13.
The program includes weekly educational themes and field trips as well as traditional sports and arts activities.
The camp stresses their commitment to a non-judgmental approach that allows children with varying degrees of Jewish education and observance to take pride in their common heritage.
A few Camp FAQs…
Q: Does TBE support all of these camps?
A: Temple Beth Emeth and its leadership believe in the power of all Jewish camps to nurture self-confident youth with strong Jewish identities. We are especially proud to support the URJ’s camps, which are aligned with our core values and which we know, from firsthand experience, to be extremely well conceived and well run. For this reason, financial support is available to youth attending URJ summer programs.
Q: How much does summer camp cost?
A: Expect camp to cost up to about $1,300 a week. TBE offers some financial support. Each camp also offers camperships based on financial need.
Q: What is the right age to start overnight camp?
A: All of these camps provide excellent supervision and personal attention appropriate to each age group. Counselors working with the youngest campers are trained to provide extra love and guidance. Many kids thrive at camp starting at age 8 or 9. If your child is more shy or less independent, consider waiting until 5th or 6th grade. But note that at camps serving younger kids, it can be difficult for more reserved kids to start in the later years because communities of friends have formed in previous summers.
Q: How should I choose a camp?
A: Most camps have videos that give a flavor of the community and activities. Don’t be afraid to call the camp office to speak with a director or assistant director. They love talking to parents, and even campers. And ask for references – always talk to someone who has attended the camp to get their take on the experience, the community, and the kids who thrive there.
Rabbi Whinston and members of the Youth Engagement Task Force are always happy to talk camp!
Contact us directly, or find us through the Temple office.