Summer Spotlight 2015: Active Bodies


During the summer, participants and staff at URJ camps, NFTY in Israel, and Mitzvah Corps are always on the move! Whether at sports lessons, hiking the negev, embarking on adventure courses, or just tossing a frisbee with friends, participants contribute to the immersive Jewish experience.

Our summer programs connect physical activities to important Jewish values and tikkun midot (character development).


Learning Through Movement

“Sports, games, art, and science projects. Swimming, hiking, climbing. Laughing, learning, sharing. It’s these activities, and more, that transform summer camp into one of the strongest links in the Reform Movement’s chain of connections.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ


Lacrosse fun at URJ Eisner Camp

Playing sports teaches campers to work together as a team, forming a welcoming and accepting community.

At URJ Camp Newman, hardly a sunny day goes by without seeing a Frisbee fly through the air. Grasping the skills of the sport alongside peers is a right of passage.

Campers, counselors, faculty, and staff share a love of sports at URJ 6 Points Sports Academy. Campers are recognized for living by sports-oriented Jewish values on a daily basis, including gevurah (strength) and rachamim (compassion).


For a URJ Crane Lake Camp staff member, camp is the perfect place to learn how to be a great lacrosse coach and a positive role model.

Activities at camp extend beyond free time and scheduled clinics. Ropes courses and adventure programs allow campers to develop teamwork skills that are useful throughout the year.


Playing Gaga at URJ 6 Points Sports Academy

Compared to the intense energy of many sports, kayaking at camp is a challenging yet calming way to stay active. At URJ 6 Points Sports Academy, the lake is the perfect place for campers and staff to take a break from team sports.

At URJ Camp Harlam, coaches instill the weekly middah (value) into their lessons, allowing campers to see the connection between Judaism and sports.



Waterskiing on the lake at Camp George


“At camp, our campers have the unique opportunity to play sports Jewishly. Every time we kick a soccer ball or learn how to do a cartwheel at gymnastics, there is a Jewish connection behind it all.”
– Dani Katowitz, URJ Camp Harlam Athletics Supervisor


Staying Active in Extraordinary Places

In Wisconsin, campers at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) take a three-day canoeing tiyul (trip), one of the biggest highlights of the summer. The trip allows for the formation of new friendships outside of their usual camp locations.


NFTY in Israel Participant Runs Down Sand Dunes

URJ Mitzvah Corps volunteers got a workout when they worked hard building a road in Costa Rica, shoveling and carrying rocks, mixing the cement, and paving the mixture by hand.

At URJ Camp Coleman, Machon Adventure participants took a challenging hiking trip that prepared them for the responsibilities of becoming a counselor.

North American Jewish teens are always on the move! NFTY in Israel participants spent four days hiking, biking, climbing, and navigating their way from the Kinneret Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. 


Campers at URJ Camp Harlam participate in an eight-mile hike – not to turn every camper into a survivalist, but to connect them to nature, teach them to care about the earth, and give them the confidence to know they can sleep in a tent.

In addition to offering campers endless opportunities to stretch their bodies throughout the day, URJ Camp Coleman also offers campers ways to stretch their minds, such as movemnet and prayer, through “T’fillahpalooza.”

Every year, teens spend four weeks biking hundreds of miles around Lake Michigan in Tour L’Agam, concluding their journey at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI).


On the go at URJ Greene Family Camp

On the go at URJ Greene Family Camp

“Jewish values and Hebrew words permeate every moment and every place, and they are modeled by every person here at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI). Respect, celebration, love, and community thrive because of the counselors and faculty that teach and model these values in everything they do-Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D, OSRUI Scholar-in-Residence