History of CYJ Texas
The story of Camp Young Judaea can be called a story of faith, dedication, and perseverance, or "When Dreams Come True." It is the story of how one man, Rabbi Ammon Prero, had the wisdom to choose three men who would take his dream as their own. Those three men were Harry Lipshy, Morris Shapiro, and Morris Wolf. They were all active members of the Zionist Organization of American and they agreed with Rabbi Prero that a Jewish camp should be built where children from all over the area would have the opportunity to learn more about Judaism and Israel. They also agreed that no children would be refused admission because their parents were financially unable to send them. And so, the great adventure began. With money borrowed from a bank and donations from concerned Jews around the state, Camp Young Judaea began in 1952.
Back then, about 100 kids from all around the state trekked every summer to Center Point, Texas facility where the founders rented from a camp called “Camp Christian”. Though the children didn’t have air conditioning or water slides, from the start CYJ-Texas forged a family of young Jewish campers with a lasting emotional connection to others like them who were passionate about Israel.
The camp continued to grow and in 1971, due in large part to a matching fund bequest of $100,000 in the will of Ben G. Barnett, Camp Young Judaea obtained its present location. Today, Camp Young Judaea’s 22 cabins sit atop 240 acres in the Hill Country of Woodcreek, Texas. Now, CYJ has 550 summer campers and reaches thousands through year-round retreats.
Beginning with the Zionist Organization of America and continuing with Hadassah until 2008, loving and honoring the State of Israel has been a priority at CYJ. The special CYJ culture of Hebrew music, Rikudei Am (Israeli dancing), arts, Kosher food and sports like “ga-ga”, basketball and soccer, create the bedrock of every camper’s summer experience. There are also elective options of photography, videography, mad science, cooking, woodworking, and newscasting.
None of this could have been accomplished without support from generations of staffers, donors, campers, and parents from throughout the United States, Canada, Israel and Mexico who have sustained CYJ-Texas for the past several decades.
Many of today’s campers are the children of former campers who have remembered their time at CYJ as impactful and meaningful steps toward their growth into Jewish adults. CYJ boasts its relationship-building on all levels, including the marriages of at least 30 couples who first became connected through camp.
Since 1952, Camp Young Judaea-Texas has provided a supportive and dynamic environment in which Jewish youth can explore, grow and mature. Through experiences designed to encourage a lifetime commitment to Judaism and Israel, Camp Young Judaea-Texas fulfills its mission: to educate, inspire and enrich the lives of its campers.