Each letter from a camper who received financial support from the Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation (JJCF) was filled with sincerity and excitement about their return to summertime fun. Since last summer was limited due to coronavirus safety precautions, the re-emergence of the 2021 camping season was met with a deep sense of appreciation by those who applied for grants to attend Jewish overnight summer camp and Israel programs.

This year, more than 100 students enjoyed enriching, developmental activities and just good old-fashioned fun through the scholarships offered by the Linda Berey Hurst Chai Fund for Jewish Life and the Dorothy Seaman Israel Program Fund; grants were also made available through the Federation’s partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper Grant program. Combined, these funds totaled approximately $90,000 for South Palm Beach County children.

“Thanks, in large part, to the generosity of the Hurst and Berey families, our Foundation was able to make many summer camp dreams come true,” said Janet S. Elinoff, Chair of the JJCF Grants & Scholarships Committee. “Following the extended disruption of 2020, the majority of our applicants wrote about how much they missed their Jewish overnight summer camp experiences and friendships, and how much they wished to return to programs they thought would never go away. This year has been a very special year for our grant recipients.”

Students received grants to attend overnight summer camp and Israel programs across the Jewish spectrum of observance. To learn about future scholarship opportunities, visit https://jewishboca.org/departments/foundation/jjcf/scholarships/; or for the first-time campers, visit https://jewishcamp.org/one-happy-camper/.

Meet a few of the campers who had a great summer, thanks to our camp funding opportunities:

Yonatan, attending Camp Ramah Darom.

My name is Yonatan, but everyone calls me Yoni… This will be my first summer at sleep away camp (at Camp Ramah Darom). My brother has been going to this camp for the last four years. I have heard him talk about how much fun he has each summer and the friends he has made… My mom also went to Camp Ramah, but the one in the Poconos, and I got to hear how awesome her summers were also. I can’t wait to make new friends, play sports (and) see what Havdallah is like in person. I think it will be really cool to know that my brother is also there.

Eytan, attending Camp Ramah Darom.

My name is Eytan. I am writing this letter to express why I am wanting to go back to Camp Ramah Darom. This summer is especially important because missing last summer, due to Covid-19, was very difficult for me. Ramah Darom has become like a second home to me. I love being there making new friends and hanging out with old ones, the new experiences and creating new memories… I have a rare genetic disorder called Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). This disorder causes my muscles to be underdeveloped and tight, which makes it more difficult to run or walk normally. Walking around camp, swimming in the pool or lake, and playing sports really helps to keep my muscles less stiff and being active is a good thing for me. Being at camp helps me feel like I am like everyone else and is a place where I am treated as an equal and included in everything.

Ethan, attending BBYO Passport Israel Journey.

Ethan: Since I was not able to go to Israel last year as well, I am so excited to be able to have the chance to go this year. Being able to go where I have wanted to go for 17 years will really make my dreams come true. Attending services at camp every night helped me grasp a little more cognizance about the Jewish religion. I learned Jewish musical compositions and diverse ways to participate in services. Playing an instrument can assemble everyone together to pray and get exhilarated about services. I already knew how to play the drums, but camp gave me a big challenge of learning a new instrument… Since attending camp, I have been playing guitar for the younger grades’ service for my temple for almost two years now.

Evelyn Paige and Rose, sisters attending Camp Ramah Darom.

Evelyn Paige: Two summers ago, I went to camp here at Ramah Darom, and it was one of the best summers I could have ever asked for; and afterwards, I was so ready to go the next year and years to come. It was only until Covid hit that I realized how grateful I was to have gotten the chance to experience overnight Jewish sleep away camp, and it was an absolute dream until Covid deprived us all the joy we partake in at camp … I am ready to head on back to my second home and do the same things and more all over again and enjoy a summer to remember at Ramah Darom.

Rose: My mom is all about the experiences we have and the people we meet, and she is so right. If she had never mentioned to me Camp Ramah, I do not know what would have happened. I absolutely loved the place, everything there, and the people. I was so excited to go back last summer, but then Corona (virus) happened … Not being able to go to camp last summer really impacted me personally, as it was much harder to reconnect with all the people I met in 2019. It impacted all the Jewish connections and traditions I wanted to be able to experience again last summer. But I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to go back and see everyone and do new things that I did not have the chance to experience last year. I will be honest I do not always agree with (my mom), but going to camp, and specifically Ramah Darom, is one of those conversations and decisions I very much agree with her on.