Jewish Life

SLC is where my son first began to understand the importance of his Jewish identity.

– SLC Parent

Jewish Life at SLC

At Surprise Lake Camp, we believe that Judaism should be a joyful, fun, and values-based experience. Our inclusive community welcomes campers from all kinds of families and backgrounds. We believe that every child should feel accepted and valued, regardless of their level of Jewish knowledge or practice. We believe that Judaism is not just about religion — it’s about community. Because every child deserves the opportunity to experience the joy of Jewish camp, we offer a variety of financial assistance options to make camp affordable for all families.

Our Jewish Mission

To give Jews from a wide range of backgrounds life-enhancing experiences that emphasize the joy and values of Judaism and that instill a greater appreciation of their Jewish identities. This is done through fun, interesting, meaningful cultural activities, through rituals that are comfortable and understandable, through a spiritual appreciation of the natural world, through establishing a relationship with the State of Israel, and through nurturing an ongoing connection with the camp community.

More about our Jewish Mission

Here’s more about some of the concepts in our Jewish mission and how we enact our values at SLC:

Life Enhancing: We believe that Jewish learning adds meaning and quality to life. We offer a Jewish framework for understanding, exploring, and appreciating life’s wonders, mysteries, and challenges, for building Jewish identity and providing a sense of belonging, and for creating positive memories that enrich young people’s experiences as individuals and as members of the Jewish community.

Experiences: Our Jewish educational program is informal and experiential: We emphasize Jewish activities and discussions and avoid lectures and other formal techniques.

Joy: We present a model of Jewish living at camp that is upbeat and uplifting. There is an emphasis on song, on creativity, on spirit, and on celebrating life, one another, and our traditions.

Values: Jewish tradition is particularly rich in ethics and values. Our children will live better lives through Jewish values they internalize at camp, and they will have stronger Jewish identities to by associating positive behaviors with the values of Judaism.

Fun, Interesting, Meaningful Cultural Activities: We approach programming with attention to the ages and interests of our diverse community. For younger children, we emphasize fun and on experiences that reach them emotionally. For teens and adults, our programs are thought-provoking and relevant.

Ritual Observance That Is Comfortable and Understandable: Jewish rituals serve as reminders of values and symbols of beliefs. They create a sense of belonging, familiarity, and personal security. We create positive ritual experiences that are accessible to whose with limited Jewish backgrounds and offer deeper opportunities for those who want greater ritual observance (traditional services).

Spiritual Appreciation of the Natural World: We believe that Judaism and nature are integrally connected. This connection is particularly relevant in today’s world. At SLC, Jewish experiences inspire greater care for our planet.

Israel: The Jewish State of Israel is a special resource for Jewish culture and pride. Israeli counselors enrich our camper and staff experience, as does our Israel programming.

Community: Surprise Lake Camp is a unique Jewish community. Friendships often last a lifetime. Many marriages get their start here. Our active Alumni Association is integral to many lives. These deep connections bring happiness—and reinforce Jewish lifelong identity.

Kosher Dining

Our dining room is Kosher and we recite a short blessing before and after each meal.

Shabbat at SLC

Camp-style services on Friday evening and Saturday morning are awesome, full of music, singing and spirit. During Saturday morning Shabbat Walk, siblings and friends from different parts of camp have the chance to visit with one another. We don’t offer crafts or creative specialties on Saturdays, but we do swim, play ball, and use electricity. In the evening, the whole camp gathers for a beautiful havdalah ceremony to end Shabbat and usher in the new week.

Listen to one of our Shabbat songs entitled “Celebrate Shabbat Shalom” below:


Summer Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program

B’nai mitzvah

If a simple Bar, Bat, or B Mitzvah that emphasizes spirit and meaning appeals to you, consider the SLC alternative. Each summer, about 20 campers hold their Bar, Bat, or B Mitzvahs at our camp. The ceremonies take place surrounded by nature, in front of the entire camp congregation, and with family members present. Designed for campers and staff who have not had the opportunity or community for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah before, they require no formal religious training and are very moving and poignant. Our Jewish Leadership team help each person tailor the experience for themselves.

While participating teens should have a serious interest in becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the program does not interfere with their full participation in other aspects of camp. Bonus: these events are completely free to SLC campers, including the kiddush celebration afterwards.

The NY Times published an article about this fantastic program!
Read the article

Request more info: [email protected]

Join us for a summer of adventure, community, and learning!