Articles & Press Releases 03.16.21

Foundation for Jewish Camp Embarks on Critical Character Development Research at Camps Across North America

New York, NY  Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) received an initial 1-year, $230,000 planning grant from the prestigious John Templeton Foundation to lay the groundwork for a proposed 3-year expansive research project to explore how Jewish camps nurture and build character among their campers and staff.  Rooted in FJC’s Making Mensches Periodic Table — a resource bank for camp staff and educators to engage in the work of character development — this research will assess the usage of these resources together with camps and other academic partners.   

The initial planning grant will be used to develop conceptual frameworks and research design and instrumentation. This work will include convening thought partners and learning circles to guide the work; conducting a landscape survey of current virtue development practices at Jewish camps; interviewing a select group of 10 camps to learn more about their current practices; and, developing a proposal for a three-year study to evaluate the impact of character development practices on the minds, hearts, and behaviors of adolescents and young adults who participate in Jewish camp.  

According to Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow, FJC’s VP for Education and Innovation and the co-leader for this project, “Jewish camp in North America has a great history of making mensches — Yiddish term for a person of great character and integrity — but that is not enough. We need to look critically and explore the metrics of character development. With the support of the John Templeton Foundation, we will define where we are headed in this work for the next decade. Surfacing and sharing best practices in character development will ensure we are making our best effort to raise new generations of thoughtful, resilient, caring, community-minded individualsThe world needs mensches now, more than ever before. 

During this initial planning year, Nila Rosen, FJC’s Director of Learning and Research, will work closely with several academic partners: Jeffrey Kress, PhD, professor in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS); Bethamie Horowitz, PhDsocio-psychologist at  NYU; Maurice Elias, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University; Nicole Samuel, MAAssociate Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University; and, Arthur Schwartz, Ed.DPresident of and former Executive Vice President at the John Templeton Foundation. 

This is FJC’s first grant awarded by the John Templeton Foundation. FJC’s goal is to build on this initial step, examine and study the work of camp, and secure future funding to develop a new set of resources, tools, and curricula to help camps better implement character education during the summer months and year-round to their campers, staff, and communities.  


To learn more about the John Templeton Foundation, visit   


About Foundation for Jewish Camp 

Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) fosters excellence and accelerates innovation at Jewish camps across North America by developing adaptive talent, deepening immersive learning experiences, and catalyzing field growth. Founded in 1998, FJC elevates Jewish camp on the cultural and philanthropic agenda, creating opportunities to engage even more young people in Jewish camp through groundbreaking programs such as One Happy Camper® and FJC’s Specialty Camps Incubator.  FJC advocates for over 300 day and overnight camps that provide nearly 180,000 campers and young staff each summer with a meaningful, personal, and lifelong connection to Judaism. FJC is a public 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information, please