Camp JRF is engaged in an exciting campaign to raise $2.5 million for the design and construction of a new Eco-Village for our teen campers.
A summer session at Camp JRF transforms being Jewish into a 24-hour lifestyle and life force, part of the intense bonding energy of our pre-adolescent and teen community. This new project will give Camp JRF additional capacity for 144 campers each summer and an increased emphasis on environmental consciousness.
Camp encourages autonomy and creativity, with an emphasis on Reconstructionist values of discussion, inclusiveness, participatory democracy, and values-based decision-making. More than any other Reconstructionist project in the last forty years, the building of Camp JRF has revealed our movement’s commitment to strengthening the next generation and creating a future for an interpretive brand of Judaism. We have created a truly sacred space.
The capacity of Camp’s core facilities -- dining, administration, four-acre pond, challenge course, indoor/outdoor theater, arts center, athletic fields, open and wooded land, and more -- exceeds the capacity of our living quarters. With an eye toward economic efficiency, therefore, our Master Plan sets as its first goal the addition of 72 new camper beds (for a total of 144 campers over the course of the summer). Campers will participate in the design and construction of the Eco-Village, and as they learn about green technologies, we will increase environmental consciousness within the campers both during the summer and in their homes, synagogues, and communities throughout the rest of the year. Our hope is that it will ultimately serve as a center for Jewish environmental education and a standard-setter for other Jewish camping communities.
At Camp JRF, we have seen in action what was shown in a Brandeis University study: Jewish camp is the number one transformative activity for Jewish youth; it enhances Jewish continuity more substantially than summer youth programs, more than Jewish day school, even more than trips to Israel.
Camp JRF’s success at nurturing the Jewish identities of young people has been matched by its growth as an institution: In only nine summers, we have gone from 39 campers living on rented space to nearly 400 campers on our own 120-acre Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Campus in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. We have been recognized by the Jewish press as one of the “Top 10 Jewish Camps” and have been embraced within our own movement as a key institution of learning, leadership and commitment for our youth.
With great success comes great challenge: Camp has reached its residential capacity, and for the past two summers we’ve had to maintain a waiting list and disappoint a number of youngsters who want to be campers. We no longer have enough beds to accommodate every child, and so we’ve had to turn away young Jewish children who want to experience the pleasures that they’ve heard about from their friends, siblings and community. It is now up to us to seize the opportunity to ensure that every child who desires a Camp JRF experience can access one.
Moreover, in the course of experiencing a filled-to-the-brim world at Camp JRF, our campers and staff have expressed a strong desire to grow also in our practice of environmentally sound sustainability. Camp JRF’s recently completed Master Plan therefore envisions both expanded living quarters and a revamped style of life, all coming together in a “green” Eco-Village for teens.
Please contact Rabbi Isaac Saposnik, Director, at email@example.com / 215-576-0800 x239.