What Can Board Members Learn from Visiting Other Camps?

By Evan Mazin, Director, Educational Capacity Building, Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education
On July 18 and 19, 2018, I joined lay leaders from several Jewish nonprofit summer camps that serve the Toronto market - Camp Northland, Camp Ramah, URJ Camp George, Camp Moshava Ennismore, and Camp Shomria – to take part in JCamp 180’s pilot year of the Board-2-Board program. We were joined by additional staff from UJA’s Silber Family Centre for Jewish Camping, and JCamp 180 Mentor Michael Miloff served as a sounding board and helped facilitate conversations among everyone participating.
The participants visited three of their camps over those two days. At each location the Camp Director or Assistant Director gave a tour of the camp, explained their mission and answered questions. Participants particularly appreciated that the visits were during regular camp days and not during a contrived environment such as an open house or visiting day. After each camp visit, the group debriefed and reflected on what they saw and learned.
What did we discuss? The discussion was focused on board-related topics such as:
  • The role of the board
  • The board's structure and functioning
  • The size of board
  • Board meeting frequency and length
  • How to properly oversee professional staff
  • What decisions were made at the board level vs. at the staff level 
Most importantly, the eye-opening experience of just seeing other camps in action “broke the bubble” of being inside only one camp. It helped the participating camp lay leaders discover how other camps approach problems and broaden their perspective on their own camp and problems they are facing.

All of the visitors are hoping to participate again in summer 2019. The only change they’d make? Incorporating more time for discussion at each camp.

Interested in taking part in the program this summer? Go to the JCamp 180 Board-2-Board Camp Exchange Program page on our website to learn more and download the application today. Applications are due May 31, 2019.

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