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The Hard Work Behind the Magic of Camp: Results & Learnings from the FJC Specialty Camps Incubator II 


Building on the success of its first pilot cohort, the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) Specialty Camps Incubator II supported four new Jewish specialty camps in moving from merely ideas to actual, functioning camps. Funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Incubator supported these camps based on the premise that combining Jewish camp values with specialty programs could draw more young people into the world of Jewish camp.

To continue to test and refine this premise, the funders engaged Informing Change to design and implement a five-year evaluation (2012–17) of the Incubator. We evaluated the extent to which the new camps developed the capacities needed to run strong summer programs, deliver intended camper outcomes, become sustainable nonprofit entities, and expand the number of Jewish youth attending camp. This final report details our findings in each of these areas, as well as insights we uncovered for the broader field of Jewish camping. Among our key findings:

  • Specialty camps attract young people who otherwise would not attend camp.
  • The Incubator model continues to be an effective way to develop a startup organization’s infrastructure.
  • Infusing Jewish content into the camp experience can take many forms, and it’s important for each camp to shape its Jewish elements based on what works alongside its specialty.

Read the executive summary here.