Gift of Life is Going to Camp
Every summer thousands of children and teens pack up their bug spray and sleeping bags as they head for Jewish sleep away camps throughout the country. Their days are filled with swimming, sports, campfires, arts & crafts and so much more. Last summer, Gift of Life introduced a special program designed specifically for Jewish camps that offered a variety of opportunities for campers, staff, and parents. In addition to recruiting over a thousand staff members and camp visitors over the age of 18, members of the camp community were involved in educational programs that provided the opportunity to meet real donors and recipients, and hear their stories. This year, the program is off to a resounding start and so far, there has not been a single camp contacted that has said “no.”
The program is based on the value of helping others, particularly giving oneself to a complete stranger to save his or her life. Additionally, the program teaches Jewish youth that we all share a common heritage, with common values, and we must take care of our community.
The camp program asks, “What does a hero look like today? What does it take to be a hero?” At Gift of Life, our heroes are donors, the people willing to give life to a complete stranger. During one program last summer, a 30 year old female donor spoke about how her life was changed as a result of being given the opportunity to save the life of 72 year old female with Myelodysplastic Disorder. After hearing her story, campers, staff, and parents were empowered to educate and engage their own communities upon leaving camp and sharing the importance of the message.
This year, the “Finding a Hero in You at Camp” program is strengthened by Gift of Life’s partnership with The Foundation for Jewish Camp. Their involvement has allowed Gift of Life to branch out into their respective camps, such as URJ, National Ramah Movement, Habbonim, and JCCA. Bringing a program that focuses on important Jewish values like pikuach nefesh (saving a life) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) to camp will add a compelling Jewish experience to a thriving Jewish camp community.
"Jewish Summer Camps have always provided campers and staff with highly impactful experiences. By allowing The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation to share its life saving work with so many future donors we are helping our patients not only by the testing done at camp but with the knowledge and passion that campers, staff and parents will bring home to their communities and college campuses,” said Ruth Miller, recruitment coordinator for Gift of Life.
The “Finding a Hero in You at Camp” is a flexible program that allows camps to choose an educational course that best suits their needs. Whether it be having a speaker or running a bone marrow recruitment drive, Gift of Life will work with any camp request.
If you, or someone you know, is in a camp program this summer and would like to involve Gift of Life, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.962.7769.