The Competitive Edge

Specialty Tracks in Jewish Overnight Camps

Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is now accepting proposals for a second round of the successful Competitive Edge program. This initiative provides training and financial support to a cohort of up to five Jewish overnight camps to plan and implement new specialty tracks in their traditional camps to launch in summer 2022. Grants will provide capital investment to build or upgrade program facilities and equipment, increase staff capacity, along with workshops to develop cutting-edge programs, refine marketing and recruitment strategies. The Gottesman Fund has generously renewed their commitment to Competitive Edge with a new $1.2 million grant.

The lack of Jewish specialty options has driven many parents and their children to choose from among the many available secular summer programs, rather than attend a Jewish camp.  Through Competitive Edge, Jewish camps will offer innovative specialty programs (intensive tracks or a “camp within a camp”), enabling them to successfully recruit and retain new campers who may have otherwise pursued secular summer experiences. These new tracks will provide high-level skill building in a multitude of areas — such as culinary arts, game design, surfing, arts, music, or robotics —  within a camp’s existing program.

With a holistic approach to training, the Competitive Edge program will guide participating camps from pre-launch thru the first two summers of operation. In addition to the specialty track, semi-annual workshops will focus on elevating camp’s marketing and recruitment strategies, refining camp’s narrative, product differentiation, program design, integration of Jewish learning, staff hiring and training, and strategic development. Along with the workshops, camps will receive virtual training with the Competitive Edge cohort as well as “by camp” coaching sessions to implement workshop learnings with their entire camp team. Each camp will have their own mentor whom they will meet with regularly throughout the duration of the program.

*The RFP is open and people can now apply

The four-year program provides camps with an opportunity to:

  • Receive up to $140,000 in matching funding (see full RFP for details)
  • Build or upgrade program facilities and equipment
  • Increase staff capacity to manage initiative
  • Develop cutting-edge program designs infused with Jewish experiential education
  • Create marketing materials and recruitment methods in order to both expand existing markets and reach new segments of the camp market who seek specific specialty camp programs
  • Refine and elevate each camp’s overall marketing and recruitment strategies, providing growth and learning for the entire camp

Please note, this program is not to help expand a camp’s program/elective offerings but is intended for new specialty tracks (“a camp within a camp” model) that will appeal to new market segments.

Click here for instructions on how to apply

*Applications due September 15th 2020. Please send RFP to

Previous camps in the program include – 

BB Surfs at B’nai B’rith Camp in Oregon – The BB Surfs curriculum is designed for campers to participate in specialized BB Surfs programming, as well as some of the beloved core elements of BB Camp including camp trips, Shabbat and other special all-camp programming. A typical day at BB Surfs is comprised of mornings at the beach for surfing instruction, afternoons of typical camp activities and specialized lake time and evenings with the wider camp community.

Athletic Edge at Ramah Darom – Athletic Edge allows campers to spend two weeks pursuing their passion for sports while also being part of Ramah Darom’s vibrant and inclusive Jewish summer camp. Campers participate in intensive sports will spend their summer improving  skill-building, playing, conditioning and training in the sport of their choice with a collegiate level coach. Athletic Edge offers lacrosse, rowing, fitness and tennis.

Berkshire Hills Culinary – Culinary campers spend each morning immersing themselves in the cooking activity of the day in the state of the art culinary studio. Daily content is designed to teach campers new recipes as well as introduce them to new techniques, tools and ingredients. Throughout the summer, campers take trips to local farms, specialty food markets, restaurants and the Culinary Institute of America. Campers also have the opportunity to participate in many non-culinary activities in the afternoons, evenings and Shabbat.

What is the goal of Competitive Edge?

The goal of Competitive Edge pilot is to help traditional summer camps launch specialty tracks. This program will provide both capital investment for upgraded facilities and equipment, and training support to successfully develop and market these new specialized program offerings. Ultimately, this initiative will help provide selected camps with a competitive edge in the marketplace to expand the number of campers served.

Please note, this program is not to help expand a camp’s program/elective offerings but is intended for new specialty tracks (“a camp within a camp” model) that will appeal to new market segments.

How much grant funding is available to each participating camp?
  1. Matching Capital Grant

A 50% matching grant of up to $100,000 earmarked for:

  • Capital investment for new facilities or facility upgrades, and equipment that will enhance the camps ability to run a high level specialty program and attract more families to camp.
  • Curriculum development and program design; and
  • Marketing and collateral materials
  1. Matching Staff Capacity Grant

A 50% matching grant of up to $40,000 earmarked for staff capacity:

  • Up to $20,000/year for two years to support the hiring of a project manager. This position can be a new staff hire, or you may choose to increase a part-time position to a full time job.

Please note: Camp needs to match each dollar.

What other opportunities will each camp receive through the Competitive Edge program?

Participating camps will partake in a 3.5 year training and mentoring program for the key professionals, which includes the following:

  • Cohort workshops, led by expert consultants, focusing on marketing and recruitment, product differentiation, program curriculum design and development, communications, program integration and staffing. Cohort workshops will be held twice per year (in the fall and spring). Workshops and coaching will not only impact the development and success of the specialty tracks, but will also strengthen camps’ overall marketing, recruitment and program design.
  • Ongoing individual consulting and mentoring. Each camp will be assigned a mentor with whom they will establish performance goals and objectives and who they will consult with regularly for mentoring, guidance and support. Additionally, Competitive Edge faculty will be accessible throughout the program for coaching and training.
  • Summer site visit by FJC and program consultants; and
  • FJC Camper Satisfaction Insight Survey (CSI) to assess the quality of the specialty program and provide insight for continued upgrade and expansion (summer 2022 and 2023).
What type of specialties programs will you accept?

Based on current offerings from the secular camp world, we envision a range of potential specialty tracks including, but are not limited to:

  • Creative & Performing Arts
  • Culinary Arts
  • Farming & Gardening
  • STEM (Makers Space, Robotics, etc.)
  • Sports
  • Music & Recording Arts
  • Water Activities & Sports
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Film, Blogs, Podcasts, etc.
  • Digital Media, Digital Arts & Game Design
  • Others
Who is eligible to apply to Competitive Edge and what are the requirements for the specialty track?

To be eligible to apply for this program, camps must have:

  • A desire to increase camper enrollment by filling existing empty beds or adding capacity;
  • Full-time, year-round professional leadership with a track record of success and delivering programmatic excellence in general and Jewish programming
  • Demonstrated capability to raise the necessary matching funds
  • ACA accreditation or the Canadian equivalent

Each specialty track will have to meet these requirements:

  • Session length must be a minimum of 12 consecutive days
  • Campers must spend a minimum of 3 hours per program-day in the specialty (or half of the day)
  • The program design should enable campers to return summer after summer, continuing to develop their skills in that specialty
  • Special consideration will be given to camps whose programs seek to retain and enroll teen campers (whose enrollment tends to drop off)
If accepted to Competitive Edge, what are the program requirements for participating camps?

Participating camps must meet the following expectations:

  • Demonstrate success in integrating Jewish content into the camp life
  • Implement all aspects of the program:
    • Attendance of relevant personnel at all trainings (both in person and virtual) and utilization of coaching hours as appropriate
    • Timely reporting based on FJC requests
    • Administration of CSI surveys
    • Staff capacity (both summer and year-round) to design and execute program and drive camper recruitment efforts at a high level
  • Enroll on average 60 campers per summer in the specialty track within 3-5 years of specialty launch. Please note: enrollment may vary depending on camp size.
What will the trainings look like and when are they?

FJC will convene the key professionals from each of the selected camps for a series of semi-annual workshops and webinars. Trainings will be held at the FJC office (note: location is subject to change) for a day and half, twice per year (in the fall and spring). These training workshops will focus on elevating your marketing and recruitment strategies and plans, refining your narrative, product differentiation, program design, integration of Jewish learning, staff hiring and training, and strategic development.

FJC will cover travel expenses and lodging for two professionals per camp for each training. Each camp, in conjunction with FJC, will determine the appropriate staff for each training based on the topics of the workshops.  Additionally, there will be opportunities for virtual “by camp” training and coaching sessions in order to share workshop learnings with the entire camp team.

Additionally, each camp will have their own mentor with whom to meet regularly for mentoring throughout the duration of the program.

Workshops and coaching will not only impact the development and success of the specialty tracks, but will also elevate your camp‘s overall marketing and recruitment strategy and camp story across the organization.

What should a strong application include?
  • Demonstrated specialty appeal based on current research
  • Initial vendor proposals/estimates for capital improvements
  • Proposed timeline and estimated budget detailing use of funds to include: facility adaptation, program development, equipment, staff, and marketing
  • Demonstrated ability to incorporate Jewish/Israel values into daily structure of camp
  • Enrollment and capacity trends and opportunities for growth
  • All requested supplemental materials (see application process and timeline)
What is the application process and timeline?

Application Process:

Camps must submit a narrative proposal of no more than three pages which includes the following:

  • Description of specialty track that will attract new segments of the camp-age market, based on current market research
  • Opportunities for infusing the specialty with Jewish experiential learning and Israel education, consistent with the mission of the camp
  • Camper enrollment details for the last three summers, and the number of new campers that the camp anticipates it will be able to serve through this program

In addition to the narrative, camps should submit the following attachments:

  • Timeline and budget delineating use of funds to include facility improvements, program development, equipment, staffing, and marketing materials
  • Fundraising capabilities and plans to raise needed funds to quality for FJC matching grant
  • 2 years of audited financials and 990s (if applicable)
  • ACA accreditation or the Canadian equivalent
  • Background of full time, year-round professional leadership

What is the timeline?

Application Opens: Late February 2020
Final Proposals Due: September 15, 2020
Notification of selected camps: October 2020
Orientation call with selected camps: November 2020
First workshop: Winter 2020/2021
Deadline to hire specialty project manager: May 2021
New Specialty Tracks open for first summer: Summer 2022
Round II Cohort Concludes: December 2023

Click here for PDF of FAQs


Questions? Please contact