Mission & History
Capital Camps & Retreat Center provides fun, challenging and creative camp and retreat experiences that build vibrant Jewish communities and nurture individual growth.
In 1985 the Greater Washington Jewish community approved the creation of a residential camp. Helped by proceeds from the sale of Camp Kaufmann, land was purchased in the Catoctin Mountains of Pennsylvania – once the site of Camps Wohelo, Comet and Comet Trails. With this purchase Capital Camps was born! In 1988, the camp opened with 190 campers and 30 staff. In summer 1990, our 8th – 10th graders moved to Camp Kaufmann and in 1991 Camp Reich opened for middle-schoolers and Camp Benjamin welcomed our youngest campers. The camp’s unwavering commitment to quality programming in a nurturing Jewish environment facilitated ACA accreditation and membership in the Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA).
Capital Camps has always attracted caliber individuals to serve on its Board of Directors. From our founding chairman Bernard White z’l on we have been blessed to have passionate, dedicated community minded leaders. In recent years the partnership between the Greater Washington and Baltimore communities has been solidified as members have joined the Board from these two regions and dedicated themselves to the fiduciary oversight associated with a first class not for profit agency.
Capital Camps remains faithful to the principle of ‘camp for all.’ Every summer we provide significant awards to families in the form of scholarships and subsidies to those who may otherwise be unable to experience a life-changing Jewish camp experience. In 1995 the Atzm’aim (independence) program for campers with special needs was introduced. Benefiting from low camper-counselor ratios, these campers are encouraged to participate in all activities. Fully mainstreamed into the general camp population, these campers add an important dimension to our camp community.
Over the past few years, there has been an increased understanding of the pivotal role that camping plays in Jewish identity-building. In 2002, our Board of Directors, supported by senior community leadership, unveiled a comprehensive master plan to develop a first class camp facility and upgraded program. The following summer, a state-of-the-art Aquatics Center opened, and by summer 2004 campers enjoyed the second step of the camp’s transformation with new camper villages, specialty buildings and a fortified infrastructure. By summer 2005, the dream was fully realized with the dramatic unveiling of a 700-person dining hall.
Today, Capital Camps is recognized as a national model of excellence, but remains true to its origins – a warm, nurturing Jewish home away from home overseen by passionate, dedicated and caring staff and volunteers.
As a member of the Jewish Community Center Association we are privileged to be part of a network of quality resident and day camps. We share the same values and beliefs and are committed to ensuring that as the single largest ‘movement’ in Jewish camping we learn best practices from one another.
In addition, we are the official provider of resident camp services to six flagship Jewish Community Centers in the mid-Atlantic region. For these JCC’s and their membership we provide additional incentives and enjoy close working relationships with their talented and dedicated staff.
At the heart of a great camp program is the dedicated and passionate year-round staff. Our talented team works year-round to ensure all facets of our program are superior and that our campers and families have a first class registration, camp and after-camp experience.