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(Parents granted permission for the children in this story to be quoted using first names only.) The change in culture at camps such as Capital Camps is a result of broader national trends, as well as concerted efforts on the part of camp staffers.Outside of just Jewish youths, teenagers across the country are having less sex than previous generations: 41 percent of high schoolers had had sex in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 54 percent in 1991.“There is an encouragement to build Jewish relationships.A lot of people met their spouses,” said Marina Lewin, the foundation’s chief operating officer.The kids wear more modest surfing gear to prevent body talk, and they attend evening programs about healthy ways to pursue relationships and how to step up if they witness sexual harassment. At Capital Camps, 15-year-old Avi, while talking with Emme by the stream near their tents, says: “I’m not going to marry out of that, lose that identity. You want to stay within it.” Emme agrees, thinking way ahead: “I want Jewish grandkids, Jewish kids.” It’s because of camp, she says, that she has a strong Jewish identity now.“When we’re talking about relationships, we’re not talking about, ‘You need to date a Jewish boy or a Jewish girl.’ We are not trying to couple anyone,” Mishkin said. After her first summer at camp, she and her sister went back to their not-very-observant parents with new songs, piles of laundry, and a request: They wanted to start celebrating Shabbat. “Some of it is very black and white, in terms of appropriate behaviors between people, but there’s a lot of nuance to it,” Lewin said.She has lofty aims for this initiative — not just to fix camp, but to fix society.
“With Jewish camps, you have really very specific cultures,” said Daniel Brenner, the chief of education and programming at Moving Traditions.
” Some former campers recall a culture that encouraged sexual encounters, albeit with intercourse forbidden.
“I very clearly remember getting to Kutz Camp and being told there’s no sex at camp — and then later on that evening, being told that anything else was fair game,” recalls Les Skolnik, a camper in the 1990s and now a 37-year-old Brooklyn social studies teacher who has led trainings for several similar Jewish camps on LGBT inclusion and other topics.
“Camp is such an amazing opportunity to teach children,” she said.
“Creating good behavior for the future, in our opinion, is training the next generation to treat each other with respect, where we won’t see a #Me Too type of movement needed anymore.” At Capital Camps today, as at many co-ed camps, sexuality and relationships are the topic of constant giggly conversations among the campers by flashlight.“There are real questions about what the role is of a Jewish camp vis-a-vis romance,” he said.“How do you be positive toward romance or sexuality, and at the same time not create a situation where it’s not clear where the boundaries are?The camp environment lends itself to the topic — kids are away from parental supervision, dressed in swim trunks and bikinis.