May 27, 2016 | By Emily Dingmann
I grew up counting down the days until camp started. Even in the middle of winter, I knew exactly how many days were left until I boarded the bus that would drive up the long tree-lined road and through the front gates of camp.
Camp was fun and I loved being with my friends, but even back then I knew that it meant more than that. Camp was where I learned important lessons about who I was and what mattered most. It was where I learned about being part of a community and being responsible for others. And it was where my passion for social justice was nurtured and allowed to grow.
Now, as an adult, I love that my job includes helping the next generation of campers connect with their own social justice roots as part of their camp experience.
Each summer, members of the MAZON team pack their bags and head out of the office to spend time teaching about hunger, justice, and Jewish values at Jewish summer camps across the country. 2016 is shaping up to be our biggest summer yet and so far we have more than twenty camp visits scheduled.
Why do we think this initiative is so important? Well, aside from a great excuse to get outdoors and hang out by the lake, spending time at Jewish summer camps allows us to connect with young, would-be advocates and help shape the future of the anti-hunger movement. MAZON believes that the Jewish community has an important role to play in ending hunger in America and Israel and we need dedicated leaders who are committed to speaking up for those who struggle to put enough food on the table. Cultivating that leadership starts with educating today’s young people about who is hungry and how they can help. That’s where the MAZON camp program comes in.
When we go to camp, we lead dynamic, interactive programs that engage campers of different ages in activities that get them to think about what it is like for millions of Americans who face difficult choices, like whether to pay for rent or buy food, and we highlight stories of real people who are experiencing food insecurity. We emphasize the importance of the federal nutrition programs like SNAP and school meals and empower campers to take action and make a difference by participating in our Paper Plate Campaign – a project that educates the rest of the camp about hunger and ultimately urges elected officials to protect essential nutrition safety-net programs.
Sure, camp is about sunshine and song-sessions, but Jewish camp, in particular, is also about building strong Jewish identities. MAZON is proud to be partnering with so many great Jewish summer camps to help campers make a lasting connection between Jewish values and justice. I know, from my own experience, how powerful the lessons learned at camp can be.
As kids across the country get ready to pack their bags for summer camp, MAZON is right there with them, getting ready for our own summer camp tour. Once again, I’m counting down the days!
Where are we headed this summer?