Foundation for Jewish Camp to Embark on Crucial Research on Character Development at Camp

Foundation for Jewish Camp to Embark on Crucial Research on Character Development at Camp


New York, NY (August 18, 2022)—Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) has been awarded a three-year expansive research grant from the John Templeton Foundation to explore how the activities and rituals at Jewish overnight camp nurture and promote character development in adolescent campers and camp staff.   

Findings of an earlier landscape survey of current virtue development practices at Jewish camps and a series of interviews with camp professionals identified kindness as the most common virtue camps desire to nurture in their communities. This next phase of in-depth research will focus on understanding how kindness is embedded into the structure of Jewish camp, how character virtues are taught, practiced, and modeled by camp leadership and staff, and how staff and campers are impacted.   

“We want to surface exemplary practices that support young adult camp staff to model and nurture kindness in themselves and others. Our research will allow us to learn with the camps and develop additional resources and practices to elevate emerging and promising character development at camps across North America,” says Nila Rosen, FJC’s Director of Learning and Research. These resources will expand on FJC’s Making Mensches Periodic Table—the resource bank for camp staff and educators to engage in the work of character development whose popularity served as the basis for this inquiry. 

FJC has selected five camps that are intentional in their construction and cultivation of a culture of kindness in their community. These camps will conduct a thorough exploration of how that shows up in their staff selection and training, relationship building, camp rituals, peer-to-peer support, professional development, branding materials, camp artifacts, signage, or explicit language used by leadership teams. 

The camps involved in this research are: 

  • Camp Ramah Wisconsin (Conover, WI) 
  • Camp Laurelwood (Madison, CT) 
  • Emma Kaufman Camp (Morgantown, WV) 
  • URJ 6 Points Sports Academy (Greensboro, NC) 
  • URJ Crane Lake Camp (West Stockbridge, MA) 

Richard Bollinger, PhD, Senior Program Officer of Character Virtue Development at the John Templeton Foundation adds, “We are excited about the potential impact of this project because spreading kindness within a community can create ripples of a ‘pay-it-forward’ nature that extend far beyond the initial kind actions. Along with the hundreds of thousands of campers, families, and staff who participate in 300+ Jewish camps across North America each year, we are eager to share and learn with FJC and the field.”  

This December, FJC will gather the first cohort of camps participating in this research phase along with multi-disciplinary advisors who sit at the nexus of Judaism and character development as a community of practice at their biennial conference, Leaders Assembly in Atlanta, GA. Together, they will develop ways to measure the intersections of character, kindness, and community within Jewish camps and undercover practices that allow camps to cultivate individuals with a deepened sense of humanity, justice, and transcendence.  


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 visit: jewishcamp.org.   

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