Exhibit: Home Away from Home

Home Away from Home: Building Community and Identity at Jewish Summer Camps
on display March 18 – October 7, 2010
Curated by Michael Schwartz

Exhibit Overview:
Since the 1930s, the children of the BC Jewish community have attended Jewish summer camps in BC and elsewhere. They have learned about Jewish history and ethics, the history and politics of Israel, and developed a strong sense of community. When asked about their experiences at camp, alumni often say that their dearest and longest lasting friendships began at the age of seven or eight, in their first days at camp.

Focusing on the history of three local camps, this exhibit follows their growth in parallel to the growth of the wider Jewish community. Starting small in the inter-war years, these camps grew dramatically with the community after World War Two, when many new immigrants arrived in Vancouver.

The camps reflect the diversity of the local Jewish community, each offering a different political and religious leaning. Similar diversity can be found in the other ethnic communities across Canada. The programming of these camps raises questions about how a community balances the fostering of ethnic identity with assimilation to Canadian society.

Camps teach youth through informal education, what author Chaim Potok has referred to as 'education caught rather than taught'. Through example and through games, campers learn about Jewish history and the Jews of the world. They learn about their obligations to help others, and ways to make a positive contribution to society.

Home Away From Home features photographs, memorabilia, T-shirts and other items from each of the camps. Additionally, interviews with camp alumni and recordings of camp songs can be heard, with accompanying analysis. Interactive displays will invite museum visitors to share their own camp experiences as well. Jewish Camps featured in the exhibit include Camp Miriam, Camp Hatikvah and Camp Solomon Schechter.

"I think [camp was] where I learned about being part of the Jewish collective, and caring about other people, and taking responsibility for what goes on in the community." - Ted Zacks

About the Curator:
A long-time staff member at Camp Miriam, Michael Schwartz served as Rosh (Executive Director) in 2006 and 2007, and previously as Merkez Chinuch (Programming Director) in 2005. He completed his Master’s Degree in History at the University of Toronto in 2007 and has worked as a researcher and coordinator at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.