Teaching Judaism and Social Skills
While some camps may have formal study, most teach through unstructured immersion learning where students learn about religious practice, social interaction, and leadership through activities. Regardless of camp structure, camps place a strong emphasis on teaching through the environment and through student peer groups. Teachers, counselors, and rabbis are available to guide campers with informal talks whenever campers feel like talking. Camps can create “teachable moments” by integrating education (be it leadership, prayer, or Jewish identity) into seemingly unrelated (often secular) activities such as mealtimes, sports, and camp rituals.
Formal education in secular crafts and activities was often incorporated in camps; above photos include images of a ceramics class and a swimming lesson.
Other camps focused on teaching Hebrew or Jewish culture activities. Zionist camps trained students in Hebrew, often through immersive language experiences. Other camps incorporate Israeli history into activities, or teach Jewish dance (upper middle).
Even secular activities could bolster Jewish identity by providing Jewish role models and teachers. In one photo above, New York Jew and comedian Eddie Cantor entertains campers (bottom left).
Camp Moledet. 1950. The largest collection of pictures shows scenes of Camp Moledet, a short-lived institution operated by a Zionist organization (it may have been the Zionist Youth Foundation) from 1949-1951. The Executive Director who hired me as a j
Camp Hofnung. 1945. A summer camp in Pipersville, PA sponsored by the Workmen's Circle. musical performance group. Left, Mr. Ancharov, center, Rhea Lemerman, right, Herbert Rothman.
Camp Moledet. 1950.
Eddie Cantor at camp, circa 1930
Clay-modeling is a popular elective at Camp Arthur
Swimming lesson, Y.M.H.A. camp, Detroit, Michigan, 1929