The Szarvas Fellowships encourages meaningful interactions and mutual understanding between youth from around the world. The North American Szarvas Fellows arrive on equal footing with their peers from different countries, ready to learn from and share with one another. By joining together in classic summer camp activities, participants are able to get to know one another in a relaxed, fun, environment.
The camp welcomes youth ages 8-18 from all over the world, from a variety of Jewish cultural and religious backgrounds. The North American Fellows interact mostly with peers their own age, with additional opportunities to engage with younger campers as well.
Life at camp is non-stop. It is brimming with the sounds of children singing, swimming, playing sports, dancing, eating, learning, acting, creating and building international friendships. A typical day begins with an international musical wake-up at 7:30AM followed by mifkad, where the whole camp gathers to begin their day together. The main part of a Szarvas day is filled with various activities in which fellows engage informally and formally with participants from other countries. An extravagant camp-wide night activity rounds out each Szarvas day.
Mealtimes are always a highlight of the day, with multi-lingual chants and cheers emanating from various tables around the communal dining hall (chader ochel). The camp is also world famous for its international birthday celebrations, where each country serenades the campers that are celebrating their birthdays with “Happy Birthday” in different languages. During meals the dining hall pulsates with energy as roughly 500 campers sing, cheer and dance together!
International and pluralistic Jewish environment
Szarvas welcomes participants from all Jewish religious and cultural backgrounds, providing a supportive environment for campers personal growth and development. The Fellowship seeks to build a pluralistic community, where, each camper, regardless of their affiliation can feel comfortable practicing their unique experience of Judaism. At camp, we work to create a diverse community based on mutual respect and openness for learning about one another. To that end, we foster and facilitate honest, respectful dialogue and friendships amongst participants.
Religious life in camp seeks to accommodate campers of all different backgrounds. The camp provides kosher food, prepared under full-time supervision, and is Shomer Shabbat. There are optional daily minyanim (prayer services) three times a day, and there is a camp wide prayer service on Shabbat, with special multi-lingual prayer booklets. Each camper bakes a challah on Friday morning for the Shabbat meal. Some campers celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs at the camp, aided by their world of new Jewish friends.
The camp at Szarvas was founded in 1990 primarily to serve campers from Eastern and Central European countries. In the years that followed participants began arriving from around the world, including India, Turkey and Israel. Recognition of the unique international Jewish opportunities that emerged at Szarvas prompted visits by groups from Western countries. Through the vision and hard work of Linda White, the American Szarvas experience began in 1999. In 2002, under the leadership of Ben Reis it became known as The Szarvas Fellowships.