Summer Camp Gives All Children Roots & Wings

March 17, 2023
Campers at a lake.

By Lisa Handelman, Camp Director at Capital Camps

When my children were young, I recall a friend telling me that the greatest gift I can give my kids is roots and wings.  Roots are the security an individual has when they develop a strong sense of personal identity.  Being connected to family, friends and a broader Jewish community grounds us.  Wings are the confidence to go out into the world.  Wings involve being poised, independent and resilient.  Jewish camping is one way to give children both roots and wings.


Molly Harburger, a J Camps and Capital Camps camper, shared how both camps provide the grounding we want for our children. “In both camps, you explore your Jewish identity. You sing Jewish songs, learn Israeli dances, use Hebrew words for activities, and get to know Israeli counselors. Camp Shabbat celebrations, color war, and other J Camps activities are similar to some of the activities at Capital Camps. That makes it more comfortable when you first get to Capital Camps. It’s similar in the reverse. Doing these activities so regularly for 3 weeks at Capital Camps makes them feel like second nature at JCamps.”

At Capital Camps, we have seen Molly and others soar.  She is a self-advocate who confidently shared her ideas with leadership. At the J, Molly is on the Middle School Leadership Council and participates in 4Front Baltimore activities. This summer Molly will be in Kaufmann Village (rising 8th grade camper) at Capital Camps and part of TNT (Top Notch Teen) at J Camps.

Some kids are overnight camp kids from a young age and are ready to come to Capital Camps starting at age eight or nine.  Others prefer the day camp experience. As the overnight camp affiliated with the Baltimore JCC, many follow the path from J Camps to Capital Camps when they are ready for an overnight camping experience.  Experts agree that an immersive experience at a Jewish overnight camp promotes independence, resilience and builds a strong Jewish identity. Deborah, Molly’s mom shared, “the two camps are complementary.”

Capital Camps and J Camps are proud partners.  As welcoming, inclusive, pluralistic organizations, we share the same values and mission:  to create a fun and meaningful summer experience for youth and teens. The team at Capital Camps partners with J Camps and parents to help determine if and when a child is ready to make the transition to overnight camp.  Capital Camps is looking forward to having campers from J Camps visit this summer, and we are so proud of campers like Molly who bring the ruach (spirit) of Capital Camps back to the J.

For more information about J Camps, please visit

For more information about Capitol Camps, please visit

Sign up for our newsletter