NURTURING MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH AT CAMP
For many people, Jewish camp provides a place to feel safe and uniquely empowered to embrace their whole selves – mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. The growing awareness and evolving complexity of mental health challenges in our society necessitates camps be equipped with enhanced staffing and training at all levels to ensure proactive support for the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health (MESSH) needs of every community member. With a visionary gift from The Marcus Foundation, Foundation for Jewish Camp aspires to elevate the field to nurture all in our Jewish camp family. Through these efforts, we can build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient communities year round.
This initiative aims to provide overnight and day camps with financial and programmatic support for camps to address MESSH in holistic ways – supporting camps’ hiring qualified mental health professionals on their staff, enhancing counselor training, integrating wellness programming into activity areas, and developing other ways to create cultural change within their camp communities year-round. Funding will also include professional development, research, and evaluation. There will be two cohorts, each convening for three years and consisting of up to 30 camps who are at various stages of addressing MESSH needs but all interested in growth and expanding resources.
*Applications for Cohort 2 will be open on or before October 18, 2021, and due by November 5, 2021 Fall 2021, with the grant funding and program running 2021-2024.
Register here to join us on October 21st, 12-1pm ET, for an overview and q&a about the Yedid Nefesh grant and program
Yedid Nefesh Cohort 1 Camps –
Camp Barney Medintz
Camp Bnai Brith of Montreal
Camp Interlaken JCC
Camp Mountain Chai
Camp Ramah in California
Camp Ramah in Canada
Camp Ramah in the Rockies
Camp Ramah Nyack
Camp Young Judaea Midwest
Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake
Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake Brooklyn
Eden Village Camp
Emma Kaufmann Camp
Habonim Dror Camp Tavor
JCamp (Westside – Los Angeles, CA)
JCC Camps at Medford
JCC Maccabi Sports Camp
Moshava Ba’ir NJ
URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy – East
URJ Camp Coleman
URJ Camp Harlam
URJ Eisner Camp
DETAILS & FAQs
What does the initiative name, Yedid Nefesh, mean?
Yedid Nefesh, Beloved Soul, refers to FJC’s understanding of the need for a multi-faceted, whole-person approach to wellness as individual souls and as a community.
How does this initiative define mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health (MESSH?)
Since every person has mental health, FJC believes it is important to address the needs of ALL in our Jewish camp communities. This initiative aims to help camps think more expansively about supporting the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health needs of all campers and staff – regardless of whether or not there is a specific mental illness diagnosis. Of course, this can and should be inclusive of supporting those with predetermined support needs.
The term MESH (mental, emotional, social health) was coined by the Association of Camp Nursing and is widely used by the American Camp Association.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being. The most commonly reported mental health struggles camps have recently shared with FJC include anxiety and depression. Other examples of psychosocial issues which can be connected with MESSH needs include, but are not limited to: struggling with eating; suicidality; non-suicidal self-injury (i.e. cutting); grief/loss; identity development and exploration (including gender identity, puberty, etc.); major life transitions (moving, changes in family structure, etc.); other environmental challenges (financial struggles, disasters, etc.); relational struggles and group dynamics with peers; relational struggles with family; or school-related challenges.
While this program is not specific to caring for those with diagnoses or noted special needs, MESSH may also include neurodevelopmental disabilities (e.g autism spectrum, intellectual disability, etc.) as it pertains to mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.
A NOTE ABOUT LANGUAGE AND INTENTIONALITY: FJC is committed to combating stigma associated with mental health. As such, we have chosen not to capitalize diagnostic labels and have removed the term “disorder” from many of these listings.
WHAT FUNDING WILL MY CAMP RECEIVE?
Grantee camps can receive upwards of $30,000 in addition to funding to cover participation in a Community of Practice, cohort-wide professional development programming, and access to additional valuable resources over the course of the three-year cohort program.
Included in this amount is:
- $20,000 toward hiring a mental health professional*
- $6,000 to support mental health training for camp staff
- Up to $4,500 in matching funds for new programmatic investments
- and $1, 500 subsidy to offset costs of local community partnership opportunities, new marketing materials, public relations expenses, and outreach to new families associated with this initiative
*For questions about hiring a licensed mental health professional, please see the Program Expectations & Guidelines.
Is my camp eligible?
The grant is open to Jewish day and overnight camps that meet FJC’s network criteria. It is strongly preferred that camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), Canadian Camping Association (CCA), or similar body.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS INITIATIVE?
Yedid Nefesh aims to make a deep and broad impact by taking a multi-pronged approach to affect several areas of camp. FJC expects camps to:
- Fully participate throughout the duration of their cohort’s three-year program, reviewing all details and following through in a timely manner.
- Participate in FJC trainings, workshops, and webinars that will be provided as part of the initiative. While subsidies will be provided, on occasion there may be some costs associated with travel. [Read more about the Community of Practice in the Program Expectations & Guidelines. COMING SOON]
- Prioritize mental health in conversations with various stakeholders, including lay leaders, on par with their commitment to supporting physical health and safety at camp.
- Increase fundraising to sustain the work catalyzed by participating in this program, including budget planning to continue support of a mental health professional at camp.
- Submit implementation and reflection reports each spring and at the end of each summer to gauge impact on each aspect of this grant.
- Hire a qualified mental health professional to: Work on-site at camp throughout the summer; Participate in Community of Practice programming; Submit weekly reports throughout the summer about mental health-related situations happening at camp
- Share documents used for onboarding campers and staff, wellness check-ins, bunk dynamics, parent communication, and other tools used for learning about and supporting MESSH needs of those at camp with the Community of Practice and in contribution towards a collective best practice resource.
- Strongly consider participation in both the Camper Satisfaction Insights and Staff Satisfaction Insights surveys, or be responsible for collecting and sharing comparable data from your camper families and staff as related to MESSH.
- Acknowledge both FJC and The Marcus Foundation in related promotional materials or reporting.
IS MY CAMP ELIGIBLE FOR YEDID NEFESH IF WE ALREADY HAVE SOMEONE WHO WORKS ON MENTAL HEALTH, OR IF MY CAMP ALREADY ENGAGES IN SOME OF WHAT THIS PROGRAM WOULD PROVIDE?
Yes! FJC is pleased to invite camps at different levels of engagement in MESH work to be a part of this opportunity! FJC will consider applications from camps who demonstrate how this grant will help them make significant impact to further raise the bar for their work in this area.
WHAT DOES PARTICIPATION IN THE COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE LOOK LIKE?
An in-person gathering* will take place once a year for camps’ mental health professionals with travel subsidies to cover most, if not all, cost. Pre-and post-camp learning will take place via virtual gatherings. At least one of the in-person gatherings throughout the 3-year program will include the camp Director or relevant camp leadership staff for community building across the field, idea sharing, and building upon the concept that community care and mental health is a shared responsibility.
*The first in-person gathering is anticipated to take place no earlier than December 2022.
WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED?
Each camp’s professional leadership team, lay leadership (i.e. Board of Directors), parent organization or movement (if applicable), and community will be impacted and involved at various stages.
As part of this initiative, FJC convenes as an Advisory Group representing a variety of mental health experts, educators, and camp stakeholders. This group engages in deeper learning and understanding of trends, needs, and more.
FJC is grateful for ongoing partnerships with North American organizations and local groups engaging in this work. If you are looking to connect with a particular organization and think FJC may have an existing relationship, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHERE CAN I READ MORE ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE YEDID NEFESH INITIATIVE
Barney Medintz To Open ‘The Den’: February 2021
EKC receives grant for mental health resources: February 2020
WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS AND TIMELINE?
Applications will be open on an annual basis.
Application Opens October 18 2021
Application Closes November 5, 2021
Applicants Notified Early December 2021
Deadline for Camps: Hire Mental Health Professionals February 1, 2022
First Community of Practice Gathering (virtual) March, 2022
In-Person Community of Practice Gathering December 4, 2022
(Leaders Assembly, Atlanta)
Questions? Please contact email@example.com.