Yedid Nefesh - Foundation for Jewish Camp
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Yedid Nefesh

NURTURING MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL HEALTH AT CAMP

For many people, Jewish camp provides a place to feel safe and uniquely empowered to embrace their whole selves – mentally, emotionally, and socially. 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, and social health (MESH) 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 MESH in holistic ways – supporting camps’ hiring qualified mental health professionals on their staff, enhancing counselor training, integrating wellness programming into activity areas, and develop 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 MESH needs but all interested in growth and expanding resources.

THE APPLICATION FOR COHORT 1 IS  NOW CLOSED.

 Preview the Yedid Nefesh Application Questions

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, and social health (MESH?)

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, and social 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) has been widely used by the Association of Camp Nursing and American Camp Association.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social 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 MESH needs include, but are not limited to: 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 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, MESH may also include neurodevelopmental disabilities (e.g autism spectrum, intellectual disability, etc.) as it pertains to mental, emotional, and social well-being.

A NOTE ABOUT LANGUAGE AND INTENTIONALITY: FJC is committed to combating the stigma associated with mental health struggles. 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 up to $20,000 toward hiring a mental health professional*, up to $6,000 to support mental health training for camp staff, up to $4,500 in matching funds for new programmatic investments, and a $500 subsidy to offset the cost of new marketing materials and public relations expenses associated with this initiative, each over the three-year period.


*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.
  • 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 reflection reports at the end of each summer to gauge impact on each aspect of this grant. 
  • Submit weekly reports throughout the summer about mental health-related situations through a live-tracking portal over the summer. 
  • Share documents used for onboarding campers and staff, wellness check-ins, bunk dynamics, parent communication, and other tools used for learning about and supporting MESH needs of those at camp with the Community of Practice and in contribution towards a collective best practice resource. 

 

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 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.

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 is convening an Advisory Group representing a variety of mental health experts, educators, and camp stakeholders. This group will engage 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 jill@jewishcamp.org.

WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS AND TIMELINE?

Applications will be open on an annual basis.

Cohort 1

Application Opens                                                                            Early October 2019
Application Closes                                                                            November 1, 2019
Applicants Notified                                                                          Early December 2019
Deadline for Camps: Hire Mental Health Professionals          February 14, 2020
1st Community of Practice Gathering                                          March 15, 2020

Cohort 2
Application Opens                                                                            Early Fall 2020

 

Questions?  Please contact jill@jewishcamp.org.

Download the Full Program Guidelines