Baltimore Camps Receive Grant to Address Mental Health

Children at Camp Shoresh in Adamstown. Courtesy of Phran Edelman.

Two Baltimore-area camps — Camp Shoresh and Camp Louise — were among the 32 Jewish camps recently awarded $1 million to address mental health.

The grant, funded by The Marcus Foundation, is an initiative of the Foundation for Jewish Camp that helps camps address the mental, emotional, and social health of campers and staff.

This is the first round of the $3.2 million Yedid Nefresh (Hebrew for “beloved soul”) initiative. Ninety camps from across the country applied.

The funds will allow camps to hire qualified mental health professionals to direct counselor training and provide for wellness programs such as meditation, yoga, and journaling. In addition, FJC will select a few camps to pilot a comprehensive
assessment for FJC.

As part of the Yedid Nefesh initiative, new hires will participate in a “Community of Practice” for learning and professional development. They will gather at FJC’s upcoming biennial event, Leaders Assembly, March 15 – 17 in Baltimore, to meet and learn more about the program and its responsibilities.

“Our field has an enormous responsibility to teach children and young adults how to take care of one another and to proactively cultivate resilience and wellness as we address the rising mental health crises,” said Jill Goldstein Smith, program manager at FJC, in a press release.

“We look forward to having a designated mental health professional on staff at Camp Shoresh who will assist our campers and counselors,” said Phran Edelman, director of operations for Camp Shoresh.

A year-round Jewish educational experience for children, teens, college students, and adults, with offices in Adamstown and Baltimore, Camp Shoresh is still in the hiring process for the new staff member. The professional will begin with the camp in June.
Camp Louise Director Alicia Berlin said she is proud that her camp looks at kids as whole people and considers their entire being, both mental and physical. They already have an entire wellness team, and have used the grant to hire clinical social worker Reesa Pearlman of Baltimore.

“That mesh of mental and physical health is a growing need in the U.S. in general,” said Berlin, who met her husband at Camp Airy, the brother camp to Camp Louise. “With this grant, we’re able to do even more and provide a foundation to understand mental health strategies and elevate awareness.”

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