Since 1951, when the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) opened its first camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, Reform Jewish camping has been an integral part of the Reform Jewish experience in North America. For years without a camp at home, dozens of Canadian campers would travel each summer to one of the URJ’s eleven premier camping facilities throughout the United States. In 1999 a fifteen-year-old dream became a reality when the URJ opened its first and only Canadian camp – Camp George.
Since 1999 Camp George has served thousands of campers and has played a significant role in the strengthening of the Reform Jewish movement in Canada. Camp George enables Canadian Jewish youth to participate in Reform Jewish camping while enjoying the beauty and serenity of the Northern Ontario camping experience. At Camp George, Jewish youth from all over Canada and the United States participate in a unique camping experience that blends the best of Reform camping with the historic traditions of Ontario camping. Within this community participants forge life-long friendships and experience a truly transformative Jewish experience.
Our Mission and Vision
We are guided by our mission which states that URJ Camp George is a Reform Jewish camp that nurtures Jewish identity, knowledge and values through a fun and immersive summer camp experience that transforms lives, building community within and beyond its borders.
We strive always to maintain and grow Camp George as a safe space where we respect and celebrate everyone’s ways of identifying themselves, as we are all made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.
The thousands of campers who are privileged to spend their summer at a URJ Camp experience new adventures, make new friends, develop their independence, and learn what it means to be part of a nurturing Jewish community. Learning in the camp setting has very few boundaries – our beautiful environment is our classroom. Our campers have the opportunity to meet friends from all over the globe and be supported by phenomenal staff who have been trained in how to be exceptional caregivers for children.
The Union for Reform Judaism itself is the umbrella organization of the Reform movement in North America. Central to Reform doctrine is: the belief in one God; pluralism, including equality between men and women in all religious rituals and practices; the autonomy of the individual, and finally the importance of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). As a URJ camp, these principles are upheld in our camp environment. Overall, the URJ believes that camp is an extension of the Jewish home and synagogue. In essence, camp serves as a model Jewish community which upholds the values and beliefs determined by the lay leadership of the URJ.
The seventeen URJ Camps are administered under the auspices of the URJ Youth Division. Other programs offered by the Youth Division include the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the national youth movement, including our local region NFTY-NEL. The International Education Department offers a full range of overseas programs in Israel and Europe. The URJ’s North American Camp Commission (NAC) is responsible for developing new camp-sites, maintaining national operating and program standards, and ensuring the efficient and safe use of facilities. Camp George and each of the other URJ Camps also has a local Camp Council composed of camp parents, professionals and lay members of the region’s member synagogues.
All URJ Camps are financially self-sustaining. Each of our camps also raises funds both for scholarships and for the enhancement of our program, buildings and equipment. Camp George enhances its programs and facilities through the generosity of our alumni and supporters.
Consistent with the mission of the Union for Reform Judaism, Camp George is an inclusive community that welcomes campers and staff with special needs and exceptionalities. We respect and celebrate everyone’s ways of identifying themselves. We believe that every child has the right to have a Jewish camp experience. We work closely with the families of campers who require additional support to ensure that Camp George is the right fit as we want each child’s experience to be a successful one. Each child who is part of our community is fully integrated into our programs and activities.
As a sacred community which is guided by the tenets of Reform Judaism, Camp George strives to be a place where each member of our community is always safe – physically and emotionally. We are committed to ensuring that Camp is a true reflection of today’s families and individuals. We are an environment that is open, tolerant, and accepting of individuals and families from varied backgrounds and makeups. Bias and prejudice in our community are not tolerated.
URJ Camp George is committed to improving accessibility for individuals with disabilities and complying with the mandatory customer standard and employment practises addressed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”).
The Camp George Judaic Experience
Each experience that a camper has at Camp George is educational on one level or another. As a Jewish camp, Camp George strives to expose campers to specific areas of Jewish knowledge, belief, and experience. Our goal is to make Jewish learning and living fun, exciting, and relevant to daily life. Jewish educational experiences are built into different parts of the camp day: daily camp life teaches campers about friendship, self-respect, taking responsibility, and living within a community. Jewish learning is also experienced through various informal educational experiences including educational activity periods three times a week, through daily prayer, singing, Shabbat and other special moments that mark Jewish time.
We take advantage of the nature of the camp environment which, at its best, involves spontaneity, excitement, creative use of space and the involvement of all members of the camp community. Campers and staff come to understand that living Jewishly is not something that only happens at camp; rather, we have the opportunity to “live Jewish” all year long. In partnership with our staff, activities of Jewish living are led by our visiting faculty made up of Rabbis, Educators, and other Jewish professionals from our partner communities.