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New Jewish camps get creative with scholarships

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URJ's Six Points Sci-Tech Academy wants girls to apply too. (URJ Camps)

URJ’s Six Points Sci-Tech Academy wants girls to apply too. (URJ Camps)

The Reform movement was the first to ordain women as rabbis and is egalitarian in all its practices.

Nonetheless, it’s having a hard time encouraging girls to try its new science-themed summer camp.

Of the 120 kids who have registered so far for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Six Points Sci-Tech Academy, one of four Jewish specialty camps launching this summer with help from a Foundation for Jewish Camp incubator, only 18 are girls.

But the Women of Reform Judaism, the umbrella for Reform temple sisterhoods, is hoping scholarship money will lure girls into the labs. It is giving the camp, located on the campus of the Governor’s Academy boarding school outside Boston, $5,000 to provide $500 scholarships to the first 10 girls registering between March 1 and April 30.

To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must be entering grades 5-9 and belong to a Reform congregation.

In a press release, WRJ President Blair C. Marks, who works for Lockheed Martin Corp., said, “As my own experience has taught me, it is so important for girls to feel safe and welcomed into male-dominated professions and to see puzzle- and problem-solving not as insurmountable challenges but rather as opportunities.”

Meanwhile, another of the new specialty camps is also getting creative with enrollment-boosting financial incentives. Camp Inc., an “entrepreneurship” camp near Boulder, Colo., is offering a free three-week session to 7th-12th graders who submit the best product or service ideas.

At the new camp, which has 25 registered so far, campers will collaboratively develop a product or service using skills and tools honed through “daily team challenges, interactions with guest entrepreneurs, tours of local businesses and weekly ‘Shark Tank’-style competitions,” according to a press release.

To enter the competition for a free session, students should provide “a detailed description of the product or service they want to launch, how it will work, why it’s needed and who would buy it.” Applicants not selected for a free session will receive a $250 discount.

Both camps also offer needs-based scholarships.

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