Camperships can make the difference for many kids

An equally effusive parent writes: "Thank you so very much for all the hard work you and others have done to help my children attend camp this summer. I am completely in awe and overwhelmed for the generosity of the community as well as the interest-free loan. Thank you. Thank you."

Each year some 200 children receive financial aid to attend camp, where they can enjoy the outdoors and have fun in an atmosphere where Jewish principles prevail — in their prayers in the morning and over their food, in the songs sung around the campfire, in the crafts they make and the way they look at nature.

As one camper explains it, "At Jewish day school we learn facts. At camp, we do stuff. We make mezuzahs and candles and we go to the river and say prayers about nature."

Most parents agree that camp is a wonderful experience, though costly.

Four years ago the price per day at overnight camp ranged from $56 to $82; it continues to rise each season.

However, with dollars from the Jewish Community Endowment Newhouse Fund and the Albert L. Schultz and Janet A. Schultz Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation, the BJE will again offer camperships and interest-free loans.

Families do not have to be living below the poverty line to qualify for assistance, according to Kerin Lieberman, BJE associate director.

"A family may have a decent income but also be sending two children to college," she explains.

Lieberman adds that the financial assistance "shows that the community is making every effort to see to it that our children can have a camp experience."

In 1997, about $174,000 was distributed through 212 camperships. The BJE is expecting to encounter at least the same need this year, if not greater.

Also this year, the Jewish Community Endowment Newhouse Fund has added three new camps to its roster: Camp Solomon Schechter in Washington, Camp Alonim of Brandeis-Bardin Institute and Camp B'nai B'rith in Oregon.

They were selected after the BJE scholarship committee researched camps attended by children in the region that were not on the campership roster.

"We opened up our funding to these camps to make sure all eligible kids have equal opportunities," said Alla Borokovich, BJE financial aid coordinator.

As in past years, camperships can also be applied to Camp Ramah in California, Camp Arazim, Camp Tawonga, Camp Moshava Bnei Akiva and UAHC Camp Institutes for Living Judaism — Camp Swig and Camp Newman.

The deadline for campership applications is March 13.

The application process is confidential. Awards of grants and loans are made on the basis of family need and availability of funds.

For information about camperships and the loan process, call the BJE at (415) 751-6983, ext. 107.