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Compared with demographically similar Jewish peers, adults who grew up going to camp are measurably more likely to attend synagogues, celebrate Shabbat and holidays in their homes and donate to Jewish charities.
Another statistic the foundation touts: Jews who attended camp as children were found to be significantly more likely to marry other Jews.
“They value this ideal that you meet your bashert, your intended life partner, at summer camp.
They will put the names of couples who met at camp in their dining hall up on the wall on a plaque — that’s a very real part of traditional religious community that does have certain ideas about coupling.” Last year, Moving Traditions organization conducted research on issues relating to romance and sexuality at 25 Jewish camps.
When Reilly met Melanie, they were 13-year-olds at summer camp who spent the long walk from archery to their bunks talking every day.
Reilly wanted to ask Melanie to an end-of-camp dance — but his friend went ahead and asked Melanie on his behalf, before he could get up the nerve to ask her himself. Now they’re 16, and the teenagers’ summer fling is still going strong in a fourth summer together as boyfriend and girlfriend at Capital Camps, a Jewish camp just over the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.
The camp environment lends itself to the topic — kids are away from parental supervision, dressed in swim trunks and bikinis.
Touch is constant — teen girls lean on each other’s shoulders in the dining hall; older campers lift their younger buddies in the air; girls lie under trees with their heads resting on boys’ stomachs.
She has lofty aims for this initiative — not just to fix camp, but to fix society.
Their youthful love story is just the sort of Jewish relationship many parents hope their children will find when they send them to Jewish camps.
The Foundation for Jewish Camp, with its motto “Jewish summers, Jewish futures,” promotes research showing that camp leads to more religiously engaged adults.
But some Jewish adults recall that in years past the pressure to date at camp occasionally took an inappropriate turn when poorly trained counselors — typically in their early 20s — nudged young teens into becoming close not just romantically, but physically as well.
This summer, in the #Me Too era, the Foundation for Jewish Camp is conducting a nationwide training program to prevent sexual harassment at Jewish overnight camps, which about 70,000 children attend each summer.
“There is an encouragement to build Jewish relationships.