Camp Makes Memories

by Josh Kerr | Dec 20, 2022

Building the Jewish Community Campership Fund ensures subsidy for young campers

Summer camp is more than a child's one or two weeks on site. It is more than a few nights away from home spent with friends. It is a warm and engaging environment where kids make memories that last a lifetime and help shape the community members they will become.

The JFM's Jewish Community Campership Fund, established in 2011, now sits at over $850,000 of contributed capital. Each year, income from this fund helps our community's summer residential and day camps subsidize campers whose families can not afford the full cost of attendance, giving more kids a camping experience.

"Last year, 51 percent of our campers required subsidy to attend camp," says Camp Massad's Executive Director Danial Sprintz. "In seventy years of Camp Massad, the number has never been that high. It had never been higher than 30 percent."

After multiple summers lost due to the pandemic, camp attendance was down. This notable decrease enabled Camp Massad to handle the newfound need. The lower-than-expected campership numbers meant money was available to offset the influx in subsidy requirements.

"We're somewhat used to being a small camp, so we're adjusting to these lower numbers again and working our way up from there," says Sprintz.

In 2023, with campership numbers expected to go up, the new normal of subsidy requirements presents a tighter operation window.

"Word of mouth is one of the best ways of getting new campers as kids share their experiences with their friends," says Sprintz. "With over half of our campers from last year requiring subsidy, that word of mouth may increase the need for this summer as well."

Families were losing employment, changing jobs, and being affected monetarily due to the pandemic meaning that this rise in need is not unique to Camp Massad. BB Camp is in a similar situation, and in 2021 gave out over $100,000 in subsidies.

To make this easier on families, BB Camp has changed its process for campers to receive support.  

"When you eliminate barriers to subsidy programs, it reaches so many more people," says Jacob Brodovsky-Yager, Co-Executive Director at BB Camp. "We've tried to make it as simple as 'my fees are X, I can pay Y.'"

As a by-product of their new process, Brodovsky says they've found that some families who have received more help in the past are now asking for less, which opens up some dollars for other families and campers who need it.

According to the Foundation for Jewish Camps, kids who spend time at Jewish camps are, in time, more likely to donate to Jewish charities, light Shabbat candles on Friday nights, and marry Jewish partners.

Trends like this are something that Brodovsky says they see at BB Camp.

"We're seeing among our subsidized families that they often don't have easy connections to the Jewish community elsewhere. They are not members of the Rady; they don't attend Gray Academy. This is their way of keeping their kids connected with the Jewish Community."

Campers' experiences shape their lives as future adults, creating memories that last a lifetime. The camps know this to be true, as does the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, which is why the Jewish Community Campership fund is more than philanthropy. It is a tangible investment in the future success of our community.

If you would like to help ensure that any child in our community who wants a Jewish camping experience will have one, don't hesitate to get in touch with Laurel Hogan, Donor Development Associate, by email at [email protected], by telephone at 204.477.7462 or toll-free from the US/Canada at 1.855.284.1918.