Jewish overnight camps are powerful incubators of Jewish identity, movements for social change and the next generation of Jewish leadership.  So, why are they built in the middle of nowhere?  As we move into camp season, I’d like to share these questions and more from a piece I wrote last year.  I look forward to the joyous sounds of campers and counselors arriving and to exploring these questions more thoroughly this summer.

Here is an excerpt:

“Camp Ramah dwells apart in Conover, WI, for a reason.  Our “aloneness” allows our community to grow even closer, and for the impact of our counselors, adult staff, and special guests to be magnified.  Whether we are learning how to observe and enact our Judaism, developing our own sense of ourselves as Jews, or learning social and independent-living skills, each of us takes advantage of the uniqueness of our surroundings.  Where else can we learn to live with other peers in a communal cabin we are responsible for cleaning?  Where else can we disconnect from our cellphones and Facebook accounts?  Where else can we challenge gender roles in our society, to resist and reframe messages about interpersonal behavior, appearance, and wealth?”

Click here to read more.

Jacob Cytryn, WGF Alum (Class 20) is the Director of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.  He is an advanced PhD student in Jewish Studies and Education at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.  His dissertation will document and theorize learning at an overnight summer camp.  He lives in Chicago and can be reached at