Jewish Life

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

– SLC Parent

Jewish Life

Judaism at Surprise Lake Camp is joyful, fun, and values-based. Our inclusive community welcomes campers from all kinds of Jewish families and backgrounds. Whether you are Jewishly connected and/or observant, whether your home is interfaith, whether your family is multicultural, single parent, or LGBTQI, or whether you consider yourself “just Jewish,” your child—and your family—can feel at home here.

Our Jewish Mission

Developed with care by our Board of Directors
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.


Camp-style services on Friday evening and Saturday morning are awesome, full of music, singing and spirit. Optional traditional services are also available for those who feel more comfortable in a traditional setting. 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:


Unique Bar, Bat, & B 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

For Summer 2022 we will continue to offer our campers the chance to become bar/bat mitzvah at Camp this summer.

Request more info: [email protected]