The formation of a strong Jewish identity in children and young adults is fundamental to the future of Judaism. Research has demonstrated that Jewish summer camps often deepen Jewish identity, strengthen religious commitment, and heighten personal connection to Judaism among campers. Researchers have attributed summer camps' effectiveness in strengthening Jewish identity to a variety of factors that can be grouped into four broad categories: Environment, Wilderness, and Community; Connection with Others: The Social Aspect of Jewish Summer Camps; Jewish Education and Religious Life; and Learning About the Self. However, relatively little research has explored the impact of Jewish summer camps on camp counselors. The present study tests the hypothesis that Jewish summer camps should affect counselors in the same way that they affect campers. This study also sought to determine the areas in which Jewish camp counselors reported profound changes, and which realms of camp life were correlated with these changes. A cross-sectional online survey was sent to Jewish groups at colleges and universities across the United States. Members of these groups who had previously served as Jewish camp counselors responded to a variety of open- and closed-ended questions concerning their background, attitudes and beliefs, experiences, and perceived changes resulting from Jewish summer camp. Confirming this study_s hypothesis, counselors reported an increase in the areas of spiritual and ritual life, Jewish identity, and Jewish values. Statistical analysis also revealed a variety of correlations between areas of camp life and the reported changes. More than half of respondents reported having multiple "peak religious experiences" at camp, typically involving relationships with others and self-insight.


Friedman, Joan


Religious Studies



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2009 Hilary J. Bryant