What’s Happening at Ramah
Gift-matching benefits camp
by William Sweet, February 2006
(This article first appeared in The Springfield Republican on February 20, 2006.)
PALMER, MA - A local summer camp for Jewish children and teens has picked up a philanthropist's challenge, and run with it.
Among a group of about 20 national Jewish camps awarded an incentive Meet Your Match grant last year by the West Springfield,MA-based Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Camp Ramah in New England has raised about $200,000 in new donations.
"This is very opportune," said Sanford S. Remz, president of Camp Ramah 's board of directors.
Meet Your Match provides a 50 percent match for first-time gifts of $10,000 to $50,000 to Jewish, nonprofit, overnight camps within the institute's network. Additionally, the institute will match gifts from contributors who triple a previous donation of at least $10,000; the maximum gift amount to receive a match is $50,000.
Scott D. Kaplan, associate director of the Institute, said that the initiative is raising funds for three other camps in Western Massachusetts: the Berkshire Institute for Music and Arts at Williams College in Williamstown, and the Union of Reform Judaism's Camp Eisner in Great Barrington and Crane Lake in West Stockbridge.
Kaplan said the effort started following a visit by Grinspoon to the Palmer camp about three years ago.
According to the Institute, pledges for the initiative more than doubled in the past month, amounting to $1.9 million, geared to getting more than $840,000 in matching funds.
The quarterly deadline for the grant has inspired givers to get aboard and give quickly, allowing the camp to make improvements that it has had in its plans for years, Remz said.
Two years ago, the camp completed a $2 million project connecting facilities to the town sewer system. Work was also done on a library, community center and synagogue building.
Camp officials are currently reviewing whether to add a new softball and baseball field and a six-room guest house, he said.
Camp Ramah , one of seven private Jewish Conservative movement camps in the country and run under the auspices of The Jewish Theological Seminary, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2003, although the campground was home to Jewish summer camps as far back as the 1920s.