The JDC–Lauder Szarvas camp started in the summer of 1990. Many years, changes and traditions later. Szarvas has become a key word, a symbol and an unmistakable concept for Eastern-European, and especially for Hungarian, Jewry. Today parents, who themselves were once campers or madrichim (group leaders) at Szarvas, now send their children to us, and together with them, they relive their own unforgettable experiences. Many organizations and creative initiatives throughout Europe have leaders who learned their commitment to the Jewish community, as well as the importance of maintaining Jewish tradition, at Szarvas Camp.
Since 1990 we have covered many themes and topics and had countless unforgettable programs, including memorable ones such as: Exodus at night led by Moses, the wandering Jew, Café Dilemma, a turn-of-the-century dilemma Ball and of course the always popular evening unit programs, bonfires, talent shows and much, much more.
Those, who, today, are the leaders of the camp, used to be 7-year-old first-time campers who have spent all of their summers in Szarvas through until the age of 18, gaining more and more new skills and experiences. They understood how it feels to be part of an open, welcoming Jewish community and, with time, they took on a more active role and greater responsibility in the camp’s life. Many of the campers of recent years became madrichim and unit heads.
Today, they are the ones who prepare, lead and create the experience for others that they themselves think of with so much love and joy.
Szarvas Camp is a Jewish children’s and youth camp that combines the building of a sense of community with individual development for each participant.
Through exciting and interesting activities, adventures and programs, the campers experience how it feels to be part of a group, while getting to know themselves, opening up to others and learning mutual respect with their peers. Our programs are based on the openness to the Jewish traditions and values that are communicated interactively, through debates and discussions, conversations, the arts, games and, above all, through the principle of free choice.
Always aware of the different age groups and their special characteristics, our 12-day-long sessions aim to encourage people to make friends, to do sports and be active and to experience the feeling of Jewish community life. At Szarvas Camp, aside from the regular programs, the participants can take part in various special activities according to their own interests. The regular programs are led by our team of qualified leaders, while the special activities are run by professionals.
For many children and young people, this two-week-long camp is their first real encounter with Jewish traditions.
The camp aims to make the Judaism it represents accepting and open for all. We help campers to live out their own Jewish identity and we enable and encourage them to find a sense of community. Through group experiences, learning and the possibility of experiencing Judaism, everyone can take his or her next step on their Jewish journey.
The International Jewish Youth Camp in Szarvas creates a community that nurtures and strengthens personal and community development and is based on providing entertaining education in a safe, encouraging and varied environment, by qualified leaders and outstanding and knowledgeable professionals. We offer a variety of opportunities to explore and strengthen identity through showing the many possibilities of cultural, religious, traditional and communal ways of identifying with their Judaism, but we leave it to everyone to choose for themselves their own path.
Among our main goals is that all of our campers and our educational staff should:
- be an active and positive part of our community,
- be open to the world, to Judaism and to their environment,
- learn about Jewish traditions
- experience how it feels to be part of a group, open up and get to know themselves and learn to respect themselves and others
- push themselves out of their comfort zone in order to learn and develop,
- make new friends and deepen their already existing relationships.