by: Foundation for Jewish Camp Articles & Press Releases February 5, 2024

Co-Founders of Foundation for Jewish Camp Receive Distinguished Award for Excellence

Elisa Spungen Bildner and Rob Bildner bestowed with  
American Camping Association’s Hedley S Dimock Award  

[New Orleans, LA] – Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) proudly announces that its co-founders, Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert “Rob” Bildner, have been awarded the distinguished Hedley S Dimock Award by the American Camp Association (ACA). The couple were honored for their extraordinary leadership, generous philanthropy, and significant impact on the field through the establishment of FJC, which now supports over 300 nonprofit day and overnight camps serving over 180,000 campers and young adults each summer. The award ceremony took place on Tuesday, February 6 at ACA’s National Conference in New Orleans. 

The Hedley S Dimock Award holds a legacy of honoring trailblazers and their impact on camping, including noted thought-leader in positive youth development Dr. Christopher Thurber and renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson. These individuals have set a high standard for excellence, exemplifying outstanding dedication and innovation in their respective fields. 

In 1998, Elisa and Rob established the Foundation for Jewish Camp with a mission to unify and galvanize the field and transform Jewish summer experiences.  FJC is the only organization dedicated solely to expanding the reach of Jewish camp and deepening its impact, leveraging more than $15 million of philanthropic giving annually. Together, as co-founders and co-chairs of FJC’s Board of Trustees, Elisa and Rob’s work has been instrumental in advancing camp on the Jewish community’s educational and philanthropic agendas.  

The couple have been recognized over the years for their longtime advocacy for Jewish camp when they received Hebrew Union College’s American Jewish Distinguished Service Award and the Jewish Funders Network’s Shapiro Prize for Excellence in Philanthropic Collaboration.  Their impact extends beyond camping, showcased in their book “The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook: 125 Homegrown Recipes from the Hills of New England”, a heartfelt tribute to local farmers and farm-to-table chefs. 

Elisa graduated from Yale, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and also has a J.D. from Columbia University and a M.S. in Nutrition. She is a former lawyer, journalist and food company CEO, as well as a former journalism professor at Rutgers and New York Universities. She is the former chair of the Jewish Funders Network, president of JTA, the international Jewish news service, and is the current president of the Jewish Book Council. In 2013, President Obama appointed Bildner to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. 

Rob received his B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Yale, his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a master’s degree in Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and is a former lawyer and entrepreneur. Rob has long been an active and noted leader in Jewish communal life. He was a founding director and former treasurer of Repair the World, a national initiative seeking to engage young Jewish adults in community service, and currently serves on the boards of the Jewish Democratic Council of America and the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale. 

“We are extremely honored that the ACA has awarded us the Hedley S Dimock Award. Elisa and I began our journey to create the Foundation for Jewish Camp 25 years ago. Despite many headwinds and challenges, we were fortunate to gain so many advocates, friends, and supporters over the years. We are proud that FJC has made an enormous impact on the field of Jewish camp, campers, counselors, their families, and the broader Jewish community,” said Rob Bildner. 

Elisa Spungen Bildner added, “We thank the ACA for recognizing the positive impact of our work on shaping the lives of young Jewish individuals, which we see as part of our collective effort to underscore the transformative power of camp. We value our continued collaboration and partnership.”