Why all Jewish children should attend sleepaway summer camp


An image from 6 Points Sports Academy, a Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Sports Camp in Asheville, N.C.

By Ryan Snyder , Sophomore, Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Over Labor Day, I traveled to Atlanta — not to visit family there, not because it was a family trip, and not because it was a school trip. I went to Atlanta to visit nine of my summer camp friends, who I’ve gotten so close with that seeing them one time a year is just not enough. 

I attend 6 Points Sports Academy, a Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Sports Camp in Asheville, N.C., where I will be spending my seventh and final summer as a camper this year. But I’m not writing this article to pitch or promote 6 Points. Instead, I am writing to promote the experience of camp in general and why every child should have this experience.

My first sleepaway summer camp experience was at Camp Sabra, a Jewish sleepaway camp at Lake of the Ozarks. After two years at Camp Sabra, I decided it was in my best interest to move on. I wanted to put an end to the camp chapter of my life, but my mom had other ideas. 

She researched and discovered 6 Points, for which I am so thankful. Before I even developed relationships with the people I became close with, there was something about the environment that just made me feel at home. This sense of community and belonging is something that every child, Jewish or not, should have the privilege of experiencing. 


For me, camp is someplace I feel comfortable simply being myself and where I feel I fit in perfectly. Camp is the perfect place for a child to develop that sense of belonging. And if like me, a child attends a camp where they don’t feel that sense of belonging or community, move on to somewhere else. Because growing up with that sense of belonging is something every good parent should want for their child.

During my first night at Camp Sabra as an 8-year-old, like everyone else in my cabin, I was up all night crying and thinking about my parents, who I had never been so far apart from. However, now as a 16-year-old, my experience with sleepaway camp has made me much more independent. Aside from camp, I have been apart from my parents for weeks at a time, and it has not been an issue. 

Camp prepares children for the rest of their lives, and a time when their parents will not be standing alongside them. While one, or multiple nights of crying, may sound like a lot for a young child to deal with, it is a necessary step in their journey towards adulthood. With these experiences, children are better prepared for instances where they will need to be comfortable without their parents as they transition into adulthood.

During my trip to Atlanta, I was able to gather with friends from all over the country. There were 10 of us from six different cities, all coming together to see each other. 

One benefit I have gained from attending 6 Points is that I have close friends all around the United States. If I were to travel to any major city in the country, I could find someone from camp to visit. Having a network of people that I am close to all around the country is a luxury, as wherever life may take me, I can find someone to help transition into that area. 

The blending of perspectives and experiences that occur at camp make you feel as if you are a part of many different communities. This, along with the friends you have grown close with, will help you adapt to anywhere — in college and beyond.

I understand that the cost of camp for many parents is something you may not have the luxury to afford. However, your investment into camp will go much beyond the cost to attend. There are also scholarship programs and grant opportunities to help families that struggle financially to send their children to camp. Either way, camp is something that all children should be able to attend regardless of financial background. So whatever measure necessary, it will be worth it for your child in the long run.

I’m not sure who I would be today if I had never encountered this place in Asheville, along with the people I have met there. However, I am confident that my mom’s decision to sign me up for a camp in North Carolina has dramatically changed my life for the better. 

Based on my experience, I hope parents reading this will get their children involved in camp from a young age, so they are able to reap the benefits just like I have.