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Jewish camping research conducted by Amy L. Sales and Leonard Saxe in
“How Goodly Are Thy Tents” Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences

Brandeis University Press in association with the AVI CHAI Foundation, 2004.

Aspects of Formal and Informal Education

Educational Variables




Students master a prescribed, goals fixed curriculum in a set period of time.

Participants have a meaningful personal experience that involves fun, socializing, and learning.

View of Authority

The teacher is the authority and
has power. The teacher is responsible for the content and style of class and for student behavior.

The leader/counselor/teacher empowers group members to learn and to assume responsibility for the group. The leader is a role model and resource.


The teacher is a master of the
style of subject matter. He or she is a
teacher good communicator, delivers
or leader frontal lectures, is directive.

The leader is a master of process and content. He or she uses creative methods, facilitates interactive group discussion, is non-directive.

Examples of Camp Curricula




4 Prayer and God (preparation for prayer at camp)

Steps (introduction to Judaism and camping)


Heroes (history presented through

Israeli culture
Jewish calendar and lifecycle events


Peace (text-based studies that move
from peace in myself to peace in
my family, in my community, and in the world)

Jewish identity
8 Ethical decision-making and choices
(focused on adolescent issues of
drugs, alcohol, sex, body piercing,
tattoos, etc.)
Israel—Dream to Reality (first session focused on pre-1948 and second
session on 1948–present)

Electives (including topics such as the
Holocaust, Jewish newspaper,
contemporary Israel, Ecclesiastes,
prayer, lifecycle)

History of Zionism


Jewish ethics, morals, and values

Percentage of College-Aged Young Adults Ranking Jewish Values as "Very Important"

Jewish Value

(n = 703)

Birthright israel
(n = 1,864)

Birthright israel
(n = 2,147)

Leading an ethical and moral life 68 63 60
Caring about Israel 65 60 46
Remembering the Holocaust 65 67 63
Making the world a better place 62 51 46
Countering antisemitism 57 54 52
Having a rich spiritual life 34 31 24
Supporting Jewish organizations 34 23 20
Observing Shabbat 25


Attending synagogue 16 12 9

Jewish Counselors' Relationship to Judaism

  Percentage in Agreement (n = i,o9i)
I am proud to be a Jew. 99
I feel comfortable and at home in Jewish settings. 92
I feel a special connection with my Jewish friends. 91
I know enough to be a real Jewish role model. 78
Jewish teachings and traditions have relevance to the
things I am most interested in.
I have serious questions about what it means to be a Jew. 41


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