Jewish Culture at CYJ

Camp Young Judaea is one of a kind! We are a private, non-profit camp not affiliated with any organization or branch of Judaism.

Our campers and counselors come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds — we have kids who attend Jewish day schools and kids who go to public school. Some of our campers can speak Hebrew fluently, others don’t know a word of Hebrew. Many of our campers attend Hebrew school, some do not. Some live in predominately Jewish areas and have many Jewish friends, some live in towns where they are the only Jewish family. Our campers come from all over the United States (mostly the East Coast, but we have plenty of happy kids from California, Texas, Arizona and other states), with some campers coming all the way from Israel and other foreign countries!

While we come from many different backgrounds, we all have one goal in common: to be part of a fantastic Jewish experience where respect and understanding are paramount. We promote and encourage this atmosphere by providing a dynamic Jewish cultural experience that incorporates informal learning with plenty of singing and ruach (spirit), a warm supportive staff, and opportunities to question and appreciate the rich diversity of what it means to be Jewish. (see below for more information)


Our food is kosher; we are an egalitarian community. We do not hold a daily minyan or prayer service, although we do say motzi (prayer before meals) and the birkat hamazon (after dinner prayer). On Friday night we conduct an outdoor service in our beautiful grove; on Saturday mornings campers have the option of either choosing a contemporary or a traditional service. Some members of our community are themselves shomer Shabbas (observant of the Sabbath) but please note that on Shabbat the camp does use electricity.


Shabbat at our camp is very special. Friday night services are held in a beautiful outdoor grove area, followed by a festive meal, singing, and Israeli dancing. On Shabbat, we have a late wakeup, continental breakfast, and then a choice of two services: contemporary or traditional. After lunch, we all participate in a rousing song session (our neighbors across the lake swear they can hear us cheering and singing!!). Following Rest Hour, campers have free time: they can go to the lake for a general swim, use the tennis courts or athletic fields, engage in a sicha (discussion), or hang out with a group of friends. After dinner, we make Havdalah and begin our new week.


Three times a week, campers meet for an informal and experiential Judaica program. Our primary emphasis is to explore our connection to modern-day Israel. Classes and programs vary according to age, but range from tikkun olam (saving the world) to Jewish heroes and heroines, from understanding the roots of anti-Semitism to performing mitzvot. Through movies, arts and crafts projects, discussion groups, hikes, games, and hands-on activities, campers are intimately involved in a compelling and meaningful Jewish cultural program.


We offer one-on-one, personalized Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutoring as well as Hebrew tutoring; there is a separate fee for this service. Please feel free to call us for more information about this program.


Camp Young Judaea offers a memorable Israel Experience program to children completing 10th grade. Open ONLY to campers who have spent at least their 9th grade summer at CYJ, the program is a multi-faceted learning and social experience. Following the program in Israel, campers return to CYJ for a 12-day Leadership Training program. The CYJ Summer Israel Experience (popularly called the “Gadna” program), is operated in conjunction with the Israeli government’s Jewish Agency for Israel.