Celebrating A Decade of Reform Jewish Specialty Camps: 10 Groundbreaking Years of URJ 6 Points Sports Academy
The first Reform Jewish specialty camp and North America’s premier Jewish sports camp, URJ 6 Points Sports Academy, celebrates ten years of impacting the lives of young Jewish athletes. During these ten influential years, the Union for Reform Judaism’s 6 Points Sports Academy helped transform the entire Jewish camping landscape.
The URJ launched 6 Points Sports Academy in 2010, and in 2019, there are two 6 Points Sports Academy campuses in North America and a Sports Israel trip. Starting from 60 campers in the opening summer’s first session, today more than 1,600 campers participate across the URJ’s expanded network of specialty camps, which include:
URJ 6 Points Sports Academy in North Carolina, California and Israel;
URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Massachusetts, California and Israel;
URJ 6 Points Creative Arts Academy in Pennsylvania.
Before 6 Points Sports Academy opened in 2010, there was only a vision of what a Reform overnight Jewish sports camp could look like. One of the primary goals – to serve as an on-ramp into Jewish camping for unaffiliated and currently unengaged Jewish families who have not been attracted to the classic Jewish summer camp model – has been a proven success and become the model to emulate in Jewish specialty camping. In response to demand, the 6 Points Sports Academy franchise has expanded beyond the East Coast to add a second location on the West Coast, and a specialized Sports Israel excursion for teen athletes to experience Israel with sports as the backdrop.
“Being part of a summer camp community where your personal passions are enhanced by Jewish values is a transformative experience. Looking ahead as we celebrate URJ 6 Points Sports Academy’s first ten years, it’s about continuing to prepare the next generation for lives of meaning, purpose, and joy,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism.
At 6 Points Sports Academy, Jewish athletes participate in top-level sports training alongside the beloved traditions of Reform Jewish camping. Camp’s unique approach to Jewish education promotes Jewish identity-building throughout the course of each day – campers not only improve their athletic abilities, they build self-confidence, strong connections to their peers and grow into proud Jewish athletes.
The 10th summer of 6 Points Sports Academy will honor the contributions of former staff, campers, families, and supporters who have been instrumental in the camp’s success. The event will feature special recognitions of the “Founding Four” (please read their quotes about camp below):
Randy Colman, Founding Camp Director
Earl Ferguson, Founding Chair, URJ North American Camp Committee
Paul Reichenbach, URJ Director of Camping and Israel Programs
Michele Friedman, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Founder and Director of Specialty Camps Incubator Program
URJ 6 Points Sports Academy camp community including campers, staff, faculty, supporters and alumni of all ages
“Founding Four” individuals who helped create and expand 6 Points Sports Academy
Danny Herz, Director, 6 Points Sports Academy – North Carolina
Weekend events: Friday, July 26 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
“Hall of Fame” Ceremony: Saturday, July 27 at 1:30 pm
++++++++++About URJ 6 Points Sports Academy from the “Founding Four:”++++++++++
Michele Friedman: “As a member of the first cohort of the FJC Specialty Camps Incubator, 6 Points Sports Academy paved the way for a new concept in summer sports programs for Jewish children and teens. What has evolved is a model for integrating Jewish thought and values with expert sports instruction and play that has changed the field of Jewish camp throughout North America. The camp opened with a ‘bang’ in 2010 with a record enrollment and has grown significantly every year since with strong retention and excellent word of mouth. With outstanding professional leadership, support from the URJ, and philanthropic lay leaders, the camp stands as a beacon of what success looks like as new camps develop. The Specialty Camps Incubator was developed as an experiment, a high-risk concept, which engaged a visionary funder, the Jim Joseph Foundation in 2007. The success of 6 Points Sports Academy and the others in the first cohort encouraged further investment and enabled FJC to add 15 new specialty camps to its roster, including the URJ’s 6 Points Sci-Tech West and 6 Points Creative Arts Academy. When the former Jim Joseph Foundation CEO, Chip Edelsberg, visited 6 Points Sports Academy, he stood at the soccer field and loudly exclaimed, ‘Jim Joseph would be thrilled!’ That certainly sums it up!!!”
Randy Colman: “Back in 2009, when we started creating the camp, we dreamed of a day where sports and Judaism would intersect without discrimination or prejudice, and allow for individuality in a warm and inclusive community; we dreamed of a day and a place where sports-minded campers would come together as a community to explore their Judaism, while allowing individuals to connect in their own meaningful way and at their own pace. We dreamed of a day when our campers would become counselors and our counselors would become leadership team members. We dreamed of a day when 6 Points would have a trip and presence in Israel. And now, 10 years later, I’m blown away by this amazing place and this awesome community.”
Earl Ferguson: “Since that first year, the camp has been nothing but a success… growing from about 200 young people the first summer to nearly 1,000 campers and staff this summer, and we have served as a model for other URJ camps. The latest news regarding camp’s location will bring some challenges ahead, but I am absolutely positive we shall surmount them.”
Paul Reichenbach: “When the URJ applied for an incubator grant from the FJC to establish our first sports camp, we were very concerned whether an intentionally Jewish sports program would attract campers. URJ 6 Points Sports Academy exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams. Our campers joyfully acquire new skills, have great fun, create a warm, welcoming and engaging community, and feel proud of their Jewish identity. We were thrilled that in the first few summers campers travelled from virtually every corner of North America (and locations around the world). Our goal was fulfilled when we recognized that close to 80% of campers had not had an immersive Jewish camp experience before coming to 6 Points.”
Courtesy of Lauren Theodore
PR and Communications Manager
Union for Reform Judaism