January 13, 2020

EKC Accepted Into Exclusive Mental Health Camping Grant

By Aaron Cantor

We are excited to that share that Emma Kaufmann Camp has been accepted into the inaugural cohort of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yedid Nefesh grant. This initiative aims to provide overnight and day camps with financial and programmatic support for camps to address MESH (mental, emotional, and social health) in holistic ways – supporting camps’ hiring qualified mental health professionals on their staff, enhancing counselor training, integrating wellness programming into activity areas, and develop other ways to create cultural change within their camp communities year-round.

Yedid Nefesh, Beloved Soul, refers to FJC’s understanding of the need for a multi-faceted, whole-person approach to wellness as individual souls and as a community.   The Foundation for Jewish Camp, in their press release announcing the grant, shares “As Rabbi Hillel teaches, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” The caretakers, camp staff, need tools to cultivate resiliency and strengthen wellness habits. “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Jewish camps have an enormous opportunity to teach children and young adults how to take care of one another, and why. “If not now, when?” Ranked as one of the highest needs among camps through the American Camp Association’s 2017 Emerging Issues study, growing awareness and evolving complexity of mental health challenges in our society necessitates camps proactively support the MESH needs of every community member. FJC’s efforts aim to build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient Jewish camps and communities year-round.”

At EKC, we recognize that for many of our campers and staff, we provide a place to feel safe and uniquely empowered to embrace their whole selves – mentally, emotionally, and socially. The growing awareness and evolving complexity of mental health challenges in our society necessitates that we be equipped with enhanced staffing and training at all levels to ensure proactive support for the mental, emotional, and social health (MESH) needs of every community member. Participating in this cohort will only enhance our ability to provide everyone in our community the support they need to be the best versions of themselves.

Everyone at EKC is thankful for the visionary gift from The Marcus Foundation, and for the Foundation for Jewish Camp, which aspires to elevate the field to nurture all in our Jewish camp family. Through these efforts, we can build stronger, more inclusive and resilient communities’ year round.

We look forward to sharing what we learn with the EKC and JCC family and are looking forward to Summer 2020!

Aaron Cantor
Director, Emma Kaufmann Camp