1) How do I choose among camps?
There are so many camp options today – from traditional camps to specialty camps, day camps and overnight, longer sessions and shorter sessions. The best camp is the one that meets your child’s unique needs. To find the right camp:
- Research camps online. Review camp websites and social media.
- Contact our camp ambassador for personalized guidance on camp options and financial assistance opportunities. We’ll send you information about the camps that interest you.
- Contact the camps that interest you directly. Request an information packet or a phone call to address your specific questions.
- Attend presentations, open-houses, and camp visits to meet directors and other key staff.
- After you’ve done some initial research, get your child involved. Discuss the options together so your child is part of the decision-making process. Facilitate a conversation with friends who attend camp so your child can hear about the experience directly from their peers. Remind your child that camp is a great opportunity to meet new friends and explore new opportunities.
2) What if my child has special needs?
There are numerous camp programs that serve children with special needs. These range from inclusive programs to programs within broader camps, to camps specifically for children and teens with special needs. All of the programs provide an opportunity for kids with special needs to socialize with peers and experience Jewish joy and culture. Please contact us to discuss the variety of special needs programs.
3)Does my child need special equipment for camp?
Each camp provides a comprehensive packing list so you will know exactly what your camper needs well before camp begins. Some camps offer specific camp shirts and camp attire. Specialty camps may allow kids to bring their own equipment (such as sports equipment for sports specialty camp programs.) Many camps allow children to bring a musical instrument. Most camps discourage (or prohibit) cell phones and other electronic equipment so that campers can focus on enjoying the outdoors and great activities at camp. Whatever your camp recommends, be sure to label everything using name tags or permanent fabric marker!
4) Will Jewish summer camp be “too Jewish”?
In short, no. You will be able to choose the camp that offers the type and level of Jewish programming and philosophy that suits your child and your family. Some Jewish camps embody a pluralistic or cultural Jewish atmosphere while others include a deeper emphasis on prayer and learning. All Jewish camps are built on Jewish values and create a special feeling of community and “ruach” (spirit). As part of the guidance we provide, we will work with your family to select a camp with Jewish programming that is appropriate for your child.
5) What if my child comes from an interfaith family?
For parents who never attended an overnight Jewish summer camp, it can seem a little strange to think about sending your child away for two to four weeks. Yet overnight Jewish summer camp has been a long tradition here in the United States as a way to help our youth feel connected to other Jews and to Judaism in a fun and safe environment. Imagine everything from sports to drama to arts & crafts, meals and Shabbat, all with other Jews! Whether or not your family belongs to a synagogue, considers itself “religious,” identifies as “interfaith,” or “unaffiliated,” summer camp can be a way to help your child build independence, create lasting friendships and memories, and strengthen Jewish pride and identity in a nurturing and welcoming community. This is an investment that we are eager to help make in your child’s future and in ours.
Interfaith families often have concerns about what overnight Jewish summer camp would be like for their child, particularly because summer camp may not have been part of their childhood experience. Whether or not you’ve ever been to summer camp, we encourage you to explore what it has to offer. Every child who is being raised as a Jew can find a welcoming summer camp that will help him or her to strengthen connections with other Jews and Judaism. We want to help find the right match which will reinforce the Jewish identity you are helping to create for your child and honor the ways in which you as a family are connected to Judaism. Studies show that immersive experiences, such as overnight Jewish summer camp, have a lasting impact on a child’s lifelong connection to Judaism. Sending your child to overnight Jewish summer camp gives them a chance to have fun, build independence, and spend time where everyone is Jewish! We know that overnight Jewish summer camp is a big investment for families to make, particularly if they do not have any previous experience with camping, so we are eager to speak with you about your family and your particular concerns, and then help to find the right camp for your family and make it financially possible for your child to attend.
6)How much does Jewish overnight summer camp cost?
Exact costs differ by camp, but tuition for most Jewish overnight camps averages $1,000 per week. Some camps may offer special pricing for new campers and/or sibling discounts, as well as discounts for early enrollment or affiliation with a sponsoring organization. You can find cost information on most camp websites. The Federation has a variety or needs-based and non-needs-based opportunities for you to save money on Jewish summer camp. Contact us so we can make sure you understand all of the financial resources available.
7)How long is a typical camp session?
There are several of options. While some camps still offer a full 7-8 week summer session, the majority of camps offer two sessions that are 3-4 weeks each. Some camps offer additional session options (such as a 2, 4, or 6 weeks). Many specialty camp programs, like those with a sports or outdoor adventure focus, offer 2- or 3-week sessions. Several camps have introductory or short-stay programs (often for younger campers) ranging from a single overnight trial experience to a 2-week session. Contact us to help you find the camp and timing option that meets your needs.
8)Will I be able to visit/communicate with my child while he/she is at camp?
Each camp sets its own policies and procedures regarding visits and communications with campers during the summer. We encourage you to check with the camp you select to find out their specific policies. Communication options typically include mail, email, and/or fax. Camps sometimes allow a scheduled phone call, especially for birthdays. Most camps prohibit campers from bringing cell phones. Camper care package policies differ, though almost all camps prohibit sending food to campers. Parents of new campers may choose to mail their child a letter before camp starts to provide a reassuring message at the start of camp.
In addition to direct parent/camper communications, many camps post photos online for parents to get a glimpse of all the fun.
9)How soon should I register my child for camp?
Enrollment timing differs by camp, but generally begins during or immediately following the prior summer–first for existing campers and their families and then for new families. We recommend exploring camps more than a year in advance so you are ready to sign up when registration opens. Camps do fill up, so register early to ensure your spot.
10)What are the facilities like at camp?
While the exact facilities differ by camp, any camp that we refer you to will provide a safe and comfortable summer experience for your child. To get a feel for a particular camp’s environment, you can visit camp websites and/or visit the camp itself with your child. Pay particular attention to the bunks, dining hall/kitchen, gym, and/or other indoor spaces, bathrooms/showers, sports fields, lake and/or pool, and arts venues. Virtually all camps have a pool and/or lake–and many lakes include exciting activities like water trampoline and boating. Many camps have special elements such as a climbing tower, ropes course, and theater space. Specialty camps will have special facilities and venues related to their specialty activities.
11) What is the process to apply for a needs-based scholarship?
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is now accepting online applications for its needs-based scholarship. You will need to submit your most recent tax return documents with your application. The deadline for submitting applications is January 30 , 2015. The review and award process is strictly confidential and anonymous. All scholarship recipients will be notified in early April 2015. Learn more and apply.
12)How do I know if I am eligible to receive a needs-based scholarship?
Eligible families must reside in the greater Atlanta area (within a 50-mile radius of the Atlanta Jewish Federation). Prior to submitting an application, camper(s) must be registered to attend a participating Jewish camp and must identify as Jewish. Please contact our Camp Ambassador to verify eligibility or if you have any specific questions.
12.1) My child attends a Jewish day school is s/he eligible to receive a needs-based scholarship?
Yes, all children who live in greater Atlanta (within a 50-mile radius of the Atlanta Jewish Federation) are eligible to apply for a needs-based scholarship.
13) My child received a One Happy Camper grant last year. Is there any grant money available to assist with his/her second year at Jewish overnight camp?
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is providing a Second-Year One Happy Camper Affordability Grant. If your child received a One Happy Camper grant during the summer of 2014, is returning to a Jewish overnight camp in summer 2015, AND your combined family income is less than $160,000, he/she may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $500.
14) Will my child be safe while at camp?
All of our camps are dedicated to providing safe and secure environments for our campers and staff. Camps regularly conduct safety and security reviews and evaluation and works closely with local law enforcement officials to make sure their safety standards and practices are the best they can be. The health and welfare of campers will always be top priority.
15) What if my child isn’t ready for overnight camp?
Sometimes campers aren’t quite ready to leave home for an extended period of time. There are many ways for your child(ren) to experience overnight camp without having to actually attend. Consider going on a camp tour for the day or participating in family camp with your synagogue. If those options still don’t meet your family’s needs, there are several wonderful day camps to choose from including MJCCA Isadore Alterman, In the City Camp, Epstein Summer Adventure, and Gan Izzy.
To apply for the second-year grant, complete the One Happy Camper application which includes questions that will determine your eligibility for the second-year program. Apply now.