Title

American Jewish Summer Camp: Changing Identity in Community

Class Year

2014

Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Sociology Department

First Advisor

Pinar Batur

Abstract

I will explore how Eden Village Camp serves as a model of positive Jewish identity formation. Jewish identity is inherently dependent on social relationships, and Jewish summer camp provides a breeding ground of socialization where interactions happen in an intense and dynamic way. Jews getting together has proved throughout history as an important source of solidarity for many young Jews in coming into themselves. Jewish American summer camp is an important socializing institution that builds self-esteem among Jewish youth and young adults, and is uniquely Jewish and American. Eden Village camp is an example of socio-historical forces coming together in a unique way to influence the future of Jewishness in America. Given the limited access I had to a large number of participants, the data I use is exploratory. The methods I used were in-depth interviews with several counselors who worked at Eden Village Camp, as well as a selection of letters from parents who wrote back to the camp, sharing how their child was impacted by the camp experience. These letters are available on the Eden Village website. I analyze these sources to back my argument that Eden Village helps young adults grow their self-esteems in healthy ways that benefit the individuals in themselves and in their interpersonal interactions. Individuals are better able to have interactions with other living beings that transcend difference and contribute to a more environmentally and spiritually healthy, as well as socially just world.

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