Will You Join Me at #JCampConf This Year?

Irving Potter receives the Outstanding Board Leadership Award from Jeremy Pava at the 2011 JCamp 180 (Formerly the Grinspoon Institute of Jewish Philanthropy) Conference.

by Irving Potter, Chairman of the Board of Directors, B’nai B’rith Men’s Camp Association

B’nai B’rith Camp (Oregon) has sent a delegation to the JCamp 180 conference in Springfield, Massachusetts every year since their second gathering. Every year we try to send at least four lay leaders, along with several of our professional staff. I’ve been part of the lay delegation most years.

It’s not an easy trip for us. Our flight typically leaves at the crack of dawn (~6:00 AM) the day before the conference begins and we don’t get to Springfield until dinner time. It’s a major commitment for those that attend and a significant expense to the organization.

But it is definitely worth it.

Since we’re way out in the northwest corner of the country (albeit a most beautiful corner), with only two other Jewish camps within 500 miles, it can seem like we’re out here on our own. When we come to the conference, we are reminded that we are part of a movement and a much larger community. For board members, it’s a chance to learn that we’re not alone, that we don’t have to figure everything out ourselves. It’s also a chance for our board members to have what we do validated. It’s nice to see that we are doing many things right.

While the keynote speakers and breakout sessions are top notch, and even after all these years I still come away having learned a lot, the chance to network with others in the Jewish camping world is the conference’s greatest value. Plus, spending time with the rest of our delegation helps us improve our internal relationships.

By showing up year after year and spending the effort to reach out beyond our own inner circles and old friends, we have, over the years, had the opportunity to meet significant movers and shakers in the Jewish community and others who are just interesting people. Over the years, those contacts have proven invaluable to our camp, not just in knowledge gained and relationships formed, but in the opportunity to win grants and loans and participate in national programs that we might have missed out on had we not been there. As attributed to Woody Allen, “80% of success is just showing up.”

As long as JCamp 180 keeps holding its annual conference we will continue “showing up.” We expect to bring 10 people to the JCamp 180 conference in 2019. It is a significant investment of our time and funds but it’s worth every hour and every dollar invested. (Oh, by the way, it’s also a lot of fun!) I look forward to seeing old friends, learning a lot and meeting some of the new and interesting people who will be making the trek to Western Massachusetts this fall.  

Note: The 2019 JCamp 180 Conference will be held October 27-29 in Springfield, MA. Look for conference registration to open in late summer. 

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at