Why we need intentional Jewish day camp

Research has shown for years that Jewish overnight camps provide one of the most effective ways to connect youth with Judaism in a way that is positive and lasting.

But according to the Foundation for Jewish Camp, of the 750,000 camp-age Jewish children in North America, just 77,000 (10%) attended Jewish overnight camp in 2014. Another 65,000 attended JCCA day camps.

Even if we estimate that 50,000 kids attend independent Jewish day camps like In the City Camp, that still leaves 558,000 (75% of) camp-age Jewish kids who are not attending Jewish camp.

Atlanta is home to 15,500 camp-age Jewish kids. 1,500 (10%) attend Jewish overnight camp, leaving 14,000 Jewish Atlanta kids seeking other summer plans. What an opportunity for Jewish day camps to provide an additional option for community connection!

Jewish overnight camp is an incredible experience, but it isn't for everyone. It's expensive, a big first step for unaffiliated or unengaged families, and not appropriate for all kids.

In the City Camp delivers an intentional, culturally Jewish experience that produces many of the same results as overnight camp - lifelong Jewish friendships, increased self-confidence, and a connection to the Jewish community and Israel - but lets kids sleep at home!

Our innovative overnight-camp-during-the-day model provides several unique benefits.

  • Affordability: The cost of Jewish day camp is low as compared to the cost of Jewish overnight camp. Four weeks at day camp averages $1200-$1600 versus four weeks of overnight camp which costs approximately $5000 (in the Southeast U.S.).
  • Low barrier to entry for unengaged/unaffiliated families including interfaith, Russian-speaking, and Israeli families. Shorter sessions and the ability to see their kids every day makes Jewish day camp a less risky proposition than overnight camp.
  • Ability to reach kids at a younger age: Kids must be at least 8 years old to attend most overnight camps while children as young as 4 or 5 can attend day camp.
  • Monday-Friday daytime-only schedule allows staff the flexibility to connect Jewishly AND pursue other opportunities on evenings, weekends, and even complete weeks of the summer.
  • Direct pipeline for family participation: Jewish content and values reach camper parents each day when kids talk to their parents after camp and bring home Jewish artwork and Shabbat challah.
  • Stepping stone to other Jewish communal experiences: Day camp allows us to introduce Jewish communal experiences to young kids and encourage them to participate in Hebrew/day school, overnight camp, youth groups, and Israel trips as they get older.
  • Opportunities for year-round engagement: Because day camps serve kids in their local neighborhoods, there are endless opportunities to reinforce camp relationships and Jewish community connection throughout the year.

Help us deliver the magic of overnight camp in a day camp setting to produce future Jewish leaders.

Read our 2014 article, "Jewish Day Camp Works Too," on eJewishPhilanthropy.

Donate to In the City Camp.

 

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