By: Foundation for Jewish Camp

Aligning Your Sports Program With Your Camp’s Culture

Sport at Jewish camp is a complex and dynamic experience for campers. Like artistic, musical,
and other Jewish experiential education experiences at camp, there is a wide spectrum of how
campers and counselors show up at the sports fields. Because of this, it is difficult to find the right
balance of being fun, competitive, educational, and inclusive when designing a sports program
in the context of Jewish camp. Supervisors, sports staff, and camp counselors sometimes lack
the resources, training, and language required to create an all-encompassing sports program
grounded in the camp’s values. These gaps lead to volatile competitive environments, which can
result in poor behavior from overly-competitive campers and disengagement from other campers.
This resource aims to address these issues by exploring how to create a supportive environment
for competition. In this guide, competition is defined as, “The intra/interpersonal dynamics of
winning and losing.” Competition and how it is consumed by children and young adults drives
their recreational sport experience. When used correctly, it can be the tool that develops a new
passions, relationships, and transformative experiences for a camper at sport. Whether your daily
sports program’s main goal is to have fun, catalyze skill development, or to replicate organized
game/league experiences, the aspect of competition is constant and must be attended to.

This resource accomplishes the following:

  • Contextualizes how your sports program should align with the mission of your camp
    by providing recommendations on how to create a program that is predicated
    on healthy competition.
  • Showcases a 90-minute staff training activity for Camp Athletic Directors
    and Heads of Sport to prepare their teams ahead of opening day.
  • Shares best practices and tips for sports instruction and building a sports program.
  • Provides sports-related language and phrases in Hebrew for sport-staff
    instructors/coaches to use with campers.

This guide is intended for the use of camp athletic directors/heads of sports programming
as they prepare ahead of opening day at camp.