As the days have grown longer and warmer here, saying the word summer brings me immediately back to my Jewish summer camp experiences. I spent more than a decade of summers at Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville. Many experiences shaped my Jewish identity, but none as strongly as the time I spent at camp. Singing Jewish songs in the chadar ohel (dining hall), stories of the bal shem tov around the campfire and learning about Jewish customs, history and values in an accessible environment made Judaism feel like it was mine to own. I couldn’t leave out the friends, sports, freedom, games and fun.
I was thrilled when I got to sign up my oldest son, Jonah, for his first summer at GUCI two years ago. This year Scott and I are excited to be able to give all three of our boys a Jewish summer camp experience both at GUCI and at JCC day camp. We can’t wait for them to return home singing camp songs and with great new friends.
JFGI is honored to have helped 37 Indianapolis kids have the opportunity to call Jewish overnight camp their home this summer. The list of camps includes hometown favorites like GUCI and Camp Livingston, far away favorites like Ramah Outdoor Adventure and university programs like Genesis at Brandeis. This year campers received incentive grants and scholarship funds from our Endowment Fund and One Happy Camper incentive program.
This program has been primarily funded by Elaine Reuben in honor of her parents the past five years, letting us to give out close to $50,000 each year in incentive grants and scholarships. We need to fund this program again for next year and have secured a $25,000 challenge grant to get us started. Now we need your help to raise the additional $25,000. Even better would be to find a donor or group of donors interested in endowing our One Happy Camper program for $1.2 million for a named gift.
If you love Jewish camping as much as I do please call Debby Grant at our Federation office, 317.726.5450, and let us know how you can help ensure that the children of our community can afford to share in the incredible gift of overnight Jewish camp.
--Debby Barton Grant