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The Transformative Effect of Camp

02/28/2019 11:28:14 AM


Molly Okun with an Introduction by Rabbi Ron Segal

It would not be an exaggeration to say that one of the primary reasons I ultimately pursued the rabbinate is due to my experiences in summer camp. Those who were fortunate enough to spend time at camp – whether Jewish or not – undoubtedly recall its life-changing impact upon our social and emotional well-being. Thus, the prospect of being able to easily and inexpensively help underprivileged youth discover that same joy is a mitzvah we should run to fulfill. I’ve asked Molly Okun, Director of Teen Learning and Engagement, to write the rest of this week’s column to help explain why and how we can all make a difference. 

- Rabbi Ron Segal

Camp Jenny has been the Union for Reform Judaism Youth Branch (NFTY) Southern Area and Southern Tropical Regions' year-round Mitzvah Corps project since 1988. The program has grown over the years from giving 40 to 150 elementary school children from impoverished Atlanta communities the opportunity to receive tutoring and support throughout the year, which then culminates in a 4-day long camp session at URJ Camp Coleman. The students receive the love of big "brothers and sisters," enjoy sports and fun activities, and receive encouragement for the future.

Camp for me is the place where I made lifelong friends, tried new things, challenged myself, learned leadership skills, and so much more. I’m not sure that I was always aware of this during my time as a camper, but now as an adult, I am so thankful for the incredible mentors and role models I have in my life because of camp. I would not be the person or the Jewish youth professional I am today without the amazing experiences I had at summer camp.

These children would not be exposed to the transformative power of camp without Camp Jenny. Children who attend Camp Jenny often lack positive influences in their lives. We are proud to provide them role models who inspire them to work hard in school, help them realize they can chase their dreams, and give them programs and activities to let them just enjoy being a kid. 

It costs $500 to send each smiling face to Camp Jenny. Temples and teens from across the southeast proudly fundraise $75,000 each year to run this weekend at no cost to the camper. This Friday, we invite you, our Temple Sinai members, to support our Sinai teens in reaching their goal of raising $10,000 for Camp Jenny, allowing 20 campers to attend free of charge.

Shabbat services will be led by our teens starting at 6:30 pm. The teens will lead from the bima, sharing their stories about Camp Jenny. Not only does Camp Jenny positively impact the campers, it also teaches our Temple Sinai teens the importance of social justice and the challenges facing our local communities. They build meaningful relationships and embrace how Judaism empowers them to enact change in the world.

Following services at 7:30 pm is our 9th Annual Spaghetti Dinner & Silent Auction where all the proceeds go to Camp Jenny. Even if you are unable to attend the service or dinner, please consider making a donation to help support CJ.

Click here to RSVP for the Spaghetti Dinner and/or financially support Camp Jenny

Click here for more information about Camp Jenny

Thank you for your support for this incredible camp that is near and dear to the hearts of so many teens and adults at Temple Sinai, and offers transformative experiences to incredibly deserving children. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Molly Okun
Director of Teen Learning and Engagement

Tue, February 18 2020 23 Sh'vat 5780