Second Group of Specialty Incubator Camps Announced

New York, NY –  Committed  to  increasing  the  number  of  children  in  Jewish  summer  camps,  the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is proud to announce the cohort for the Specialty Camps Incubator II grant. This unique entrepreneurial opportunity will launch four new camps opening their doors Summer 2014. The Specialty Camp Incubator II is made possible by a grant of $8.6 million jointly funded by The Jim Joseph Foundation and the AVI CHAI Foundation.

Through a rigorous selection process, the Incubator advisory committee selected nonprofit specialty camp proposals possessing strong Jewish missions that weave Jewish culture, values, and learning throughout the elements of the camp program.  The Incubator seeks to develop camps to reach demographic groups and geographic regions underserved by existing traditional and specialty Jewish camps. Once open, the Incubator II camps will attract new segments of Jewish youth entering grades six through twelve, strengthening their Jewish identity and contributing to their specialized interests.

The camps selected for Specialty Camp Incubator II are:

  • Camp Inc., Business and entrepreneurial camp based in Boulder, CO
  • Camp Zeke, East Coast based health and wellness camp
  • JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, Sports camp in the San Francisco Bay area
  • URJ Six Points Science Academy Science and technology camp in the Boston area

This cohort will build on the success of the first Incubator, which launched five Jewish specialty camps in 2010.

Collectively, 92Y Passport NYC, Adamah Adventures, Eden Village Camp, Ramah Outdoor Adventures, and URJ 6 Points Academy continue to surpass their enrollment and retention goals -proving the demand for Jewish specialty options in the summer camp marketplace. Incubator II will provide expertise and support to the second cohort of individuals and organizations as they plan and implement their vision for new models of nonprofit, Jewish specialty camps.

“The five camps that opened in summer 2010 as a result of the first Specialty Camps Incubator show the broad and deep engagement potential of Jewish specialty camps,” says Al Levitt, Board President, Jim Joseph Foundation.  “1255 Jewish youth enjoyed specialty camp experiences this past summer. The camps exceeded their enrollment benchmarks and provide a new path to Jewish camp for many children. We have the utmost confidence that these four new camps will do the same”

Specialty camps continue to gain in popularity,” says Levitt.  “The goal of Incubator II is to continue the momentum, take what was learned from the first cohort, and launch four new specialty camps with innovative ideas in underserved areas that incorporate experiential Jewish learning along with excellence in programming.”

FJC learned from the first Incubator that the Specialty model attracts new campers; according to parents surveyed, 40% of campers who attended these specialty camps reported that they had never attended Jewish camp before and 66% said that they only went to Jewish camp because they were attracted to one of the specialties. Additionally, 74% of campers’ parents reported that the experience positively impacted their Jewish identity – 65% testified to positive changes in campers’ Jewish knowledge  –further  aligning  the successes of this program with the missions of all three foundations.

After seeing the achievements and long term potential of the Incubator program, the AVI CHAI Foundation determined that it would be in line with their strategy to invest in the Specialty Camps Incubator II.  “We are excited to be a part of creating more camps that will provide exciting Jewish immersive experiences for campers who may not otherwise have attended Jewish camp,” says Yossi Prager, Executive Director, North America, the AVI CHAI Foundation.  “The Specialty Camps Incubator has proven to be a successful method for launching new Jewish camps. We are thrilled to be a part of this next phase of the program.”

According to the Cohen Center at Brandeis University, 10% of Jewish children attend a Jewish summer camp.  The Specialty Camps Incubator aims to attract children in sixth-twelfth grade from the 90% of Jewish youth who are not having memorable Jewish summer overnight camp experiences.  The Specialty Camps Incubator II satisfies the mission of all three organizations which aim to increase Jewish experiential learning, strengthen Jewish continuity, and foster strong Jewish social networks among Jewish children and youth.

We are excited to be growing the portfolio of specialty camps, developed through a Jewish lens. Many camp-aged children were missing out on the transformative summers at Jewish camp because they wanted to spend their  summers  honing  a  skill  or  developing  a  hobby,”  explains  Jeremy  J. Fingerman, CEO, FJC.  “The  Specialty  Camps  Incubator  allows  for  these  kids  to  have  both experiences in one setting.”


Camp Inc. provides campers with a business and entrepreneurial summer camp experience rooted in Jewish values. Campers will learn how to build a company in an industry of their choice and gain the skills necessary to become innovators and social leaders in business, philanthropy, and the Jewish community. Israel education will be embedded in the program as campers learn about Israel through the lens of their entrepreneurial sector. Campers will learn from high-level mentors, teachers, and business pioneers.  Camp Inc., under the direction of Josh Pierce, will be operated by the Boulder JCC.

Focusing on pure foods, energizing fitness activities, and culinary arts, Camp Zeke is founded on the time-honored Jewish lesson that physical and spiritual wellbeing go hand in hand. By immersing campers in traditional teachings of shmirat haguf (taking care of the body) and the latest developments in exercise science and nutrition, Camp Zeke will help children become healthier, fitter, happier, and more spiritually-engaged Jews. The director of the camp, Isaac Mamaysky, is a professor, attorney, and Camp JORI alum who has a longstanding connection to Jewish camping, and has been involved in both formal and informal Jewish education. Isaac is joined by his fiancee, Lisa Kravitz.

Through intensive clinics and creative programming, the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp will be a transformative experience for young Jewish athletes who are passionate about sports and desire to advance their skill levels. Infused with the same spirit and commitment of the JCC Maccabi Games, the focus will be less on the individual’s current skill level but on the athlete’s capacity to be coached and a commitment to competitive sports. The JCC Maccabi Sports Camp will be based on the west coast with Joshua Steinharter as the director. For seven years, Josh has held the position of Athletic Program Manager for Youth & Coach Development at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and has served as the Delegation Head for Team San Francisco in the JCC Maccabi Games for the past five years. He is an alum of URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute.

URJ 6 Points Science Academy will create an exciting camp environment that addresses the whole child. This innovative specialty camp will not only engage campers’ curiosity about the world through superior hands-on scientific and technological exploration, experimentation, and reflection; it will immerse them in a vibrant Jewish community filled with Jewish music, Shabbat experiences, and living connections to Israel. Jewish values, ethics and tradition will be woven together with the spirit and excitement of open scientific inquiry. URJ 6 Points Science Academy, the 14th in the Union for Reform Judaism’s camp system, will be located in the Boston, MA area.

The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is the only public organization dedicated solely to nonprofit Jewish overnight camps. FJC employs a variety of strategies toward a single goal: to increase the number of children in Jewish summer camps. To this end, the Foundation creates inspiring camp leaders, expands access to and intensifies demand for camp, and develops programs to strengthen camps across the Jewish spectrum in North America. Through strategic partnerships on local and national levels, FJC raises the profile of Jewish camp and serves as a central resource for parents and organizations alike. FJC works with more than 150 camps, 70,000 campers, and 10,000 counselors across North America each summer to further its mission.

By investing in promising Jewish education grant initiatives, the Jim Joseph Foundation seeks to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning experiences for young North American Jews. Established in 2006, the Jim Joseph Foundation has awarded $265 million in grants to engage, educate, and inspire young Jewish minds to discover the joy of living vibrant Jewish lives.

The AVI CHAI Foundation, founded in 1984 and operating in North America, Israel and the former Soviet Union, is committed to strengthening Judaism, Jewish literacy, and Jewish tradition and to sustain, enlarge, and enrich Jewish commitment to the State of Israel. In North America, the foundation’s focus has been to foster and nurture the energizing nucleus of the American Jewish community, by which the foundation means American Jews who are Jewishly literate, who view their lives through the lens of the Jewish religion and feel a deep connection to the world-wide Jewish people, with its center in Israel. Believing that the most effective educational vehicles to achieve this energizing nucleus are Jewish day school and overnight summer camps, the foundation has invested significantly in both fields.

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

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