One Happy Camper grants make camp more affordable
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Summer CampFor first-time campers

One Happy Camper grants make camp more affordable

“Jewish overnight camp can be a transformative experience in a child’s journey of identity building, creating relationships and participating in a community."

EKC campers enjoying a sunny day on Cheat Lake (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh)
EKC campers enjoying a sunny day on Cheat Lake (Photo courtesy of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh)

Emma Kaufmann Camp has been a summertime staple for Pittsburgh-area Jewish children and teens for more than a century.

Formed as the Emma Farm Association on May 19, 1908, the camp — one of the oldest overnight Jewish camps in the U.S. — originally called 65 acres in Harmarville its home. It used the land to get city kids out of mill-polluted Pittsburgh air and allow them to take part in open-air recreation.

After the Irene Kaufmann Settlement took over management of Emma Farm in 1916, a 12-day stay there ran families $2 per person — if they could afford it.

Today, Emma Kaufman Camp offers a sprawling range of outdoor activities at a 200-acre campus along scenic Cheat Lake in Morgantown, West Virginia. Now operated by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, organizers like to say the camp “provides the perfect setting for adventures, sports and recreational activities on land and water; the perfect environment for each camper to learn, grow and develop independence, confidence and a sense of self.”

Again this summer, the Papernick Family Foundation, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Foundation for Jewish Camp, will help subsidize the cost of sending Jewish children to overnight camps such as EKC through its One Happy Camper grants.

“One Happy Camper grants are for children attending Jewish overnight camp for the first time,” said Carolyn Linder, the Federation’s associate director of Jewish life and learning.

To qualify for the financial aid, campers must attend an approved Jewish overnight camp — for the first time — for at least 12 consecutive days or longer, Linder said. They must be entering grades 1 through 12 and identify as Jewish.

“In our region, Emma Kaufmann Camp, the overnight camp of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh, is an approved camp,” Linder said. “But, families may opt to send their child to any of the other 150-plus approved, traditional and specialty overnight camps.”

In addition to EKC, potential campers and their parents can sort through a list of approved camps. That list can be found at jewishcamp.org/one-happy-camper/find-a-camp-overnight/.

The list of camps includes places like Camp Ramah in Canada, a Conservative camp in Muskoka, Ontario, and Camp Young Judaea Midwest, a Zionist camp in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

“Jewish overnight camp can be a transformative experience in a child’s journey of identity building, creating relationships and participating in a community,” Linder said. “Jewish overnight camps offer a wide array of activities appealing to a wide range of interests like aquatics, arts and crafts, basketball and soccer, dance, music, cooking, archery, drama, outdoor adventure and hiking, and so much more.”

Jewish overnight camp also weaves together Jewish values, culture and traditions with “the fabric of camp,” helping campers to connect to their own identity and the larger Jewish community, she added.
Through One Happy Camper grants, Jewish children attending overnight camp for the first time can receive $700 for camps running 12 to 18 consecutive days and $1,000 for camps running more than 19 consecutive days, Linder said.

Applications are being accepted for this summer, Linder said, and families can apply online at: app.onehappycamper.org/ParentLogin/ParentApplication/Login. PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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