Advocating for Jewish Camp on Capitol Hill 2018
Last week, FJC CEO Jeremy Fingerman, joined with colleagues from the American Camp Association and YMCA Camping Network on Capitol Hill. In their meetings with Senate and House leadership, they raised four public policy issues that affect camps:
- CHILD SAFETY
They acknowledged the landmark passage of the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA), which became law in late March. CPIA offers organizations serving children access to the national FBI fingerprint-based background checks. As a result, we have another tool to help fully protect children under our care.
- CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
They continued to raise the importance of preserving and protecting the Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel programs utilized by so many of our camps. While our efforts last fall were successful, the issue is not yet fully resolved, and we anticipate further review of the regulations related to the different J-1 visa categories.
- GETTING KIDS OUTDOORS
They expressed support for the proposed Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) bill to facilitate and increase free access to public lands and outdoor recreation space, in partnership with federal and state agencies.
- TAX ISSUES
They advocated on behalf of the many nonprofit faith-based camps which rely heavily on charitable giving for proposals to provide an above-the-line charitable deduction available to everyone, regardless of if they itemize or not. The new tax cut and reform package that Congress passed in late 2017 contains two provisions which negatively impact camps: reducing the deductibility of business meals and taxation of “relocation” and travel expenses for camp volunteers and employees. In addition, they raised the issue of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) which prevents parents from deducting costs associated with overnight camps (while allowing so for day camps.)
YOU CAN HELP BY DOING THE FOLLOWING THIS SUMMER:
- Capture powerful stories highlighting the beneficial cultural exchange between campers, counselors, and Israeli shlichim in particular. Videos and articles would be highly effective, especially if placed in your local media outlets during the summer. We would like to keep track of these stories from across the country, should it be necessary to share more broadly if the J-1 camp counselor categories come under further scrutiny in the fall. Please also send your stories to us at email@example.com.
- Invite your elected representatives to visit your camp this summer. Especially during this upcoming election year, House and Senate members seek these kinds of opportunities. During such a visit, you can demonstrate the power of the above-mentioned policy issues.