Mercaz Center

This photo, take in June 2016, shows the Mercaz Center at the B’nai B’rith Camp on East Devils Lake Road has art studios, a day camp activity center and space for conferences.

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Summer camp, like many institutions, is in jeopardy this summer.

Camp directors and their boards are busily working to develop contingency plans to reopen in accordance with national and state health guidelines. To assist camps during this unprecedented time, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) has created the All Together Now matching grant to offer access to a $10 million emergency fund through its JCamp 180® program.

B’nai B’rith Camp, located in Lincoln City, will be one of approximately 100 nonprofit Jewish summer camps across North America that will be eligible to receive $1 from the HGF for every $2 raised from other donors through the end of 2020.

B’nai B’rith Camp has never been more important in serving the needs of Jewish campers and its families, says camp officials. Since 1921, BB Camp has built a strong, immersive community based on shared ideals, serving over 1,200 overnight and day campers each summer. Plans are currently in place to make certain that BB Camp will welcome its first campers for beginning June 29.

“When under stress, Jewish life, faith, and traditions are a source of strength for kids and adults alike,” says BB Camp Executive Director, Michelle Koplan, “Whether they come out of quarantine or struggle with anxiety and depression as a result of these unprecedented times, we recognize the vital role we play in the lives of our campers and their families. Kids need connection with others, outdoor play, and to feel more free, and we provide both that and an opportunity to cope, heal, build friendships for life, and find deeper meaning and purpose through Judaism.”

Since launching JCamp 180 15 years ago, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation has invested $35 million in Jewish overnight and day camps throughout North America as well as provided training and support to boards of directors and professional leadership.

“The timing of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting camps especially hard. We don’t yet know the full extent of the resources that camps will need to weather this storm, but we know they need extra cash flow now, and their needs will be significant if camps can’t open this summer,” said founder Harold Grinspoon. “Jewish summer camp is a transformative experience for more than 90,000 children and young adult counselors each summer and is vital to our Jewish community. We hope that this new $10 million commitment will inspire others to help with needed funds to protect and sustain Jewish camp at this critical moment.”

In addition to the All Together Now matching grant, JCamp 180 mentors will continue to assist camp leadership with contingency planning, strategic communications, and navigation of financial resource opportunities as they become available.

“Whether we have a full camp season this summer or fewer sessions at lower capacity, we’re doing everything we can to ensure that we’ll be able to continue to provide meaningful, magical experiences for Jewish children in future summers,” says Michelle Koplan. “But we need the help of the entire community to work toward that goal, and we’re hopeful that the matching component of the All Together Now grant will bring us the necessary funding to achieve our goals.”

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