MONTREAL — Six Canadian Jewish summer camps and 32 others in North America are to receive $1,000 each from the New York-based Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN) to develop teen philanthropy programs.
As part of the camp philanthropy program, participating camps will create their own teen-based “philanthropic foundations” and donate money to nonprofit organizations of their choosing.
The goal, said Stuart Guttman, director of Camp Massad in Quebec, is to get an early start in inculcating Jewish value-based principles of giving and to develop community leaders of the future.
“This is all about empowering teens,” Guttman told The CJN. “It is what leadership training and development are all about.”
Other participating Canadian camps are Camp Kineret-Biluim in Quebec, Camp Kadimah in Nova Scotia, Camp Gesher and URJ (United for Reform Judaism) Camp George in Ontario and JCC Camp Shalom in British Columbia.
Most of the funding for the program comes from the Maimonides Fund based in New Jersey.
Camp Massad’s Guttman said that the teen camp program began as a pilot project in 2012 and involved 19 camps and more than 600 campers.
“Last year we applied, but did not get in,” he said.
For 2013, the program is firmly in place, and the number of participating camps and campers has doubled.
“We’re all very excited,” Guttman said. “It’s part of what our camp’s own LTD [leadership training and development] program are about,” and fits in well with Massad’s own Malam (Machon l’Madrichim) counsellor-in-training program.
Guttman said in a sense, camps will be “playing with the house’s money” in terms of what they decide to do with the funding they receive.
Participating camps will spend the summer reviewing grant proposals from non-profit organizations, “make site visits to potential grantees” and decide which organizations to support.
The “philanthropists-in-training” will also examine Jewish texts, traditions and values related to giving.
In Camp Massad’s case, teens might also decide to hold a car wash in nearby Ste. Agathe and pursue other initiatives as part of the overall terms of reference of the project, Guttman said,
“It’s not just about the foundations that will be created,” he said. “It’s also about a way to feel personally connected to what we are doing.”
According to the JTFN website (www.jtfn.org), its mandate is to “provide Jewish teens with hands-on opportunities to engage in collective philanthropic giving with their peers, guided by Jewish values.”
The JTFN is described as the “central address for Jewish youth philanthropy programs across North America,” and evolved in 2006 as an outgrowth of a Jewish Youth Funders Conference of the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), a body of lay and professional leaders formed in 2001 to develop community philanthropy projects.
Since its inception, the JTFN has created more than 125 Jewish teen philanthropy programs in North American day and religious schools, synagogues, social-service agencies, and local Jewish federations and community foundations.