Foundation for Jewish Camp, a national advocacy group invests in a high-caliber leadership program as it promotes summer camps as an extended community for Jewish youth

As the Foundation sought ways to get the word out and promote the value of Jewish summer camp, it honed in on the pivotal role that camp directors play in meeting the mission. The organization decided to create a high-caliber professional development opportunity that would give directors the skills they need to lead camps in the 21st century. The vision was to combine best practices in leadership, management and business – all infused with Jewish values and ethics.

The Foundation’s Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) was launched in October 2006 and involves seven sessions over 14 months. ELI is rooted in the Center for Creative Leadership’s philosophy of self-awareness and personal growth as cornerstones of effective leadership. The camp directors, or fellows, also study finance, fundraising and best practices across the overnight camp industry.

Objective:

Create a high-caliber program for directors of Jewish summer camps in order to:

  • Professionalize the field by creating development opportunities and career paths
  • Create a support system and networking structure for camp directors
  • Teach best practices in leadership and management, weaving in Jewish values and ethics

Results:

The Executive Leadership Institute was launched in October 2006. A formal evaluation is underway; meanwhile the Foundation reports the following benefits:

  • Camp directors have gained new stature as professionals, both in their own eyes and in the view of their Boards
  • Camp directors have built trust, worked together on difficult issues, and shared best practices
  • Camp directors have a new awareness of their own leadership style and goals for growth as leaders

Through ELI, the camp directors have been re-energized and re-connected to the value of their work. They appreciate the respect and recognition that comes with the Foundation’s investment in their role as leaders.

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