Mission Statement

Camp Wise provides a friendly, supportive, and cooperative atmosphere that fosters individual growth at each camper’s own pace. Campers are encouraged to learn new skills and master old ones, to make decisions, to take responsibility, to be expressive, to live with others, and to have fun. Complemented by our Jewish environment, campers develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Jewish heritage and traditions while also developing a true sense of community.  Camp Wise is committed to making sure that every camper leaves with a greater sense of self-esteem and self-confidence; and with memories that will last a lifetime.

Click here to read more on Camp Wise’s Statement on Inclusion: http://www.campwise.org/camp-wise-statements-on-inclusion/

Vision Statement of Jewish Community

The overnight camp setting is the foundation for a unique transformative learning environment of total immersion and ‘living’ Judaism. In this space, accessibility for everyone – regardless of knowledge or experience – is created by the openness of the educator, be it a counselor, a visiting educator, or a camper. Through intentional programming rooted in the core values of camp, campers gain a sense of ownership for their own Jewish exploration and identification that carries with them beyond camp into the ‘real world.’ The emotional and spiritual connections evoked at camp create campers and staff members who are hacham lev (wise of heart), who become seekers of kehillah (community), hochmah (wisdom) and shalom (peace).

7 Core Values

B’tzelem Elohim (In the Image of God)

The Torah teaches that everyone is created in the image of God. We desire to create a community of mentsches (good humans) who treat people with kindness and respect, and who accept and celebrate each individual for who they are. B’tzelem Elohim extends to the way we take care of ourselves, treat others, and interact with our world. 

Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)

As beings created in God’s image one of our responsibilities is to repair what is broken in our world. We do this through Social Action (acts of tzedakah – charity), Social Justice (helping to implement systemic change) and being Shomrei HaAdamah, guardians of the Earth. 

Kehillah (Community)

Kehillah is at the core of Judaism and the Camp Wise community. We strive to develop individuals who feel a responsibility as members of various communities including the camp community, the larger Jewish community (klal yisrael), the State of Israel, and as citizens of the world. Our texts teach us that “kol yisrael arevim zeh ba zeh” all of Israel is responsible for one another (Talmud Shavuot). Truly all humans are responsible for one another. 

Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests)

Just as Abraham and Sarah opened their tent for visitors with kindness and hospitality, Camp Wise creates a place of belonging for returning campers, new campers, staff, and guests.  Camp Wise is a place where everyone can be themselves and feel welcomed and included for who they are. 

Hoda’ah (Gratitude)


Hoda’ah (Gratitude)

The first words we are supposed to utter when we wake in the morning are words of gratitude – “modeh/ah ani l’fanecha.” We thank God simply for the opportunity of another day to do and be our best. This helps us to focus not on what is missing from our lives but on what we already have. The Camp Wise environment allows us to step back from an everyday focus on materialism and turn our attention to connecting with others and ourselves. 

Kavanah (Spirituality/Intentionality)

Camp is a place where Judaism comes to life – it is an environment where we live by Jewish time and immerse in Jewish culture. Camp Wise is also a place where individuals are encouraged to discover their own spirituality. Campers and staff members experience moments of simcha (celebration), ruach (energetic spirit) and hitbodedut (individual reflection) that create opportunities for spiritual growth.

L’dor Vador (Chain of Tradition) 

As a camp that is more than 115 years old, we recognize the value of having generations-long traditions while also the joy of creating new ones. We appreciate this, too, as members of the Jewish community, which has existed for thousands of years. By understanding our history we honor those from our past who helped shape the present and we continue to grow and learn, creating a better future.

Mandel JCC

Camp Wise is a department of Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland, Ohio. Contact the camp office to learn more about the JCC and it’s services. Members of the Mandel JCC receive discounted camp tuition.

Camp Wise supports the Mandel JCC’s J-Day Camps. Contact the camp office to see how your child can split their summer between J-day Camps and Camp Wise.

A Brief History of Camp Wise

Since its first summer of operation in 1907, Camp Wise has grown from a basic fresh-air camp into a modern, organized residential camping facility. Initially a program for underprivileged immigrant families, over the years Camp Wise has developed to be a leader of the field of Jewish camping, and has secured a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of children and teens. Created by a dedicated and passionate group of leaders and volunteers with foresight and vision, the camp’s initial funding began with a generous gift from Samuel D. Wise – and Camp Wise was born.
Camp Wise was originally situated near Euclid, Ohio, at Stein-on-the-Lake, Interurban Stop 133. In 1924 when the camp was moved to Painesville, Ohio, newspapers printed stories about the camp that “promises to be the model camp of the entire country.” With a growing number of campers and a need for better facilities, Camp Wise was relocated again in 1966 to its present site in Burton, Ohio. Halle Park, the name of the site encompassing both Camp Wise and the JCC’s Anisfield Day Camp was a gift made possible through the generosity of Eugene and Blanche Halle. While the physical location of Camp Wise has moved three times, the spirit and magic of Camp Wise remains the same.
For a more detailed history of Camp Wise, contact our office to obtain a copy of “The Camp Wise Story, 1907-1988” by Albert M. Brown.

Our Partners

Our Camp Committee is a group of dedicated, active volunteers who work closely with the professional leadership of Camp Wise to ensure the best possible camp experience for our campers. The Camp Wise Committee is comprised of alumni, camper and staff parents, and community members. If you are interested in joining this dynamic group, contact the Camp Wise office at wisekids@mandeljcc.org

2021-2022 Committee Members

Loren Chylla – Chair

Jennie Becker – Alumni Chair

Larissa Elgudin

Lesley Gordon

Debbie Klein

Josh Mayers

Rob Port

Alan Semel

Marty Shankle

Jeremy Sosin

Erica Starrfield

Darby Steiger

Rob Zimmerman

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland supports the Mandel Jewish Community Center and Camp Wise by contributing to ensure our financial security and supporting our facility updates.

The Jewish Community Center Association is the umbrella organization for Jewish Community Centers around the country. They offer support services to camps including:

  • Consulting to camp leadership teams to encourage the use of best practices in camping
  • Hosting professional conferences
  • Programming support including our teen Israel experience.

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation has provided valuable services to Camp Wise for almost 10 years. These include:

  • J camp 180 which provides free consulting services to camp and lay professionals, including development of our strategic plan.
  • Offers grant-matching opportunities for facility upgrades.
  • Supports the PJ Goes to Camp and One Happy Camper incentive grants which help to increase attendance at Jewish overnight camps.

The Foundation for Jewish Camp has been an active partner with Camp Wise for many years.
Their services include:

  • Innovative training programs for camp professional and lay leaders
  • Creating the Cornerstone program which provides camp bunk staff the opportunity to learn to create meaningful Jewish programming that they can then bring back to camp.
  • Administers the One Happy Camper Grant in partnership with PJ Goes to Camp, The Harold Grinspoon Foundation and local communities. These grants provide incentive grants to first-time campers.