JCamp 180
News & Events

Leaders in Jewish Camp field honored at the 2011 Grinspoon Institute Annual Conference


November 14, 2011

Harold Grinspoon and Larry Moses
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Leaders in the field of Jewish Camp were honored at the 2011 Grinspoon Institute Annual Conference, which was held in mid-November in Springfield, Mass. More than 375 camp professionals and board leaders from across North America attended to discuss best practices for improving the long-term viability and success of Jewish overnight camp.

The Grinspoon Institute of Jewish Philanthropy, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, offers free consulting services to over 90 nonprofit Jewish camps and other organizations throughout North America in the areas of board development, strategic planning, fundraising, and technology for outreach. Over the past six years, affiliated camps self-report collectively raising more than $140 million, of which the Grinspoon Institute's matching grant programs has leveraged over $60 million in charitable contributions to Jewish camps. These funds have been used for capital improvements, scholarships, expansions, and improvements all for the benefit of Jewish children. Research has shown that the Jewish overnight camp experience has a profound positive impact on the creation of life-long Jewish identity.

This year's conference theme, "Leaders in the Field" recognizes that the professional and volunteer leaders who are committed to Jewish camp are enjoying a remarkable moment in our field. Jewish camps are forging new ties to enthusiastic alumni, developing high performance governing boards, and inspiring new levels of philanthropic investment from people who value our essential role in securing the future well-being of the Jewish people. Jewish Camp is being recognized for having effective positive impact in the formation of life long Jewish identity and affiliation. Jewish camps are developing the future leaders of the Jewish community.

Camps that demonstrated outstanding achievements over the past year were presented with Grinspoon Institute Awards - the second annual presentation of awards dedicated solely for the field of Jewish overnight summer camp. The following awards - generously co-sponsored this year by the Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Foundation - were presented at the conference:

  • The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award was given to Holly Guncheon of Herzl Camp (Webster, Wisconsin) for her significant impact building long-term vitality and sustainability through increased cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship efforts.
  • The Outstanding Board Leadership award was given to Irving Potter of Camp B'nai B'rith (Neotsu, Oregon) for his work to significantly improve Camp B'nai' B'rith's board governance, fundraising and planning.
  • The Impact in Technology Award was given to Camp Morasha in Lakewood, Pennsylvania for its integrated use of technology for internal effectiveness and improved communications, community-building, and fundraising through the strategic use of their donor database, social media tools, eNewsletters and their website.
  • The Grinspoon Institute Outstanding Philanthropist Award was awarded to Alan Franco whose donations and leadership helped to leverage more than $3 million for URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp (Utica, Mississippi) and who, from his home in New Orleans, LA has been a major supporter for programs in his home town and throughout the Southern USA.

During the conference, 11 camps received incentive awards from the Foundation for meeting their goals in the Create A Jewish Legacy program. In four years, this program has resulted in an estimated $50 million in estate based commitments to Jewish overnight camps from over 1900 individuals

"I believe building Jewish camaraderie over the summer months is incredible for Jewish kids -- gathering children around a campfire builds self-confidence, a love of Judaism, and fun," says Harold Grinspoon, founder and philanthropist of the Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy. "Camping is an essential place to build a stronger Jewish future beginning with our young people. This work is important, and all of the camp professionals and board leaders in attendance at the conference are the reason it is all possible."

Six years ago, the conference was little more than 35 camp lay and professional leaders gathered in Harold Grinspoon's living room. Now, with record-setting attendance, including 40% first-time participants, the conference is a national Jewish camp event devoted to strengthening the fundraising and organizational capacity of more than 90 Jewish organizations across the nation, including overnight camps, day camps, day schools, and other umbrella groups and special projects.

Larry Moses, former President of The Wexner Foundation, was the keynote speaker at The Grinspoon Institute conference. His remarks on leadership, camping, and collaboration kicked off a full conference schedule that enabled participants to learn from each other's leadership experiences.

Beginning in 2012, the Grinspoon institute will provide Jewish day camps with the same mentoring services that have been so transformative to overnight camps. The pilot group of five day camps from 2011 will be joined by 12 additional day camps located from Connecticut to California.

The conference also marked the start of the 2011-12 Grinspoon Institute Fundraiser's Training (GIFT) program. This year-long program provides specific training to development professionals from affiliated camps. Through an intensive schedule of highly interactive online and face-to-face learning opportunities, GIFT participants will be actively engaged in developing and executing breakthrough projects, personal development plans, and overall organizational fundraising plans.


About the Institute
The Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Its vision is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit overnight camps and other organizations that engage young people in meaningful Jewish cultural and educational experiences. The goal of the Grinspoon Institute is to guide these camps to become strategic and self-sustaining by providing coaching and consulting services along with technology assistance and a series of matching grant challenges. The Institute enhances its offerings with additional services such as conferences, professional training, webinars, the Create a Jewish Legacy Program, Technology Program and more.