Why is Canadian Young Judaea introducing a new program?

Over the past 5 years, it has come to the attention of the Canadian Young Judaea community, that although CYJ works to create safe, positive and inclusive environments for all sexual and gender identities there are some campers, who would feel more comfortable in a safer space dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community.  This new program is an opportunity to strengthen the CYJ community and the Jewish community as a whole.The ultimate goal is to pave the way for these campers to feel safe and supported in all of our CYJ summer camps.


What is Machane Lev?

Machane Lev (translated to Camp Heart) is a one week overnight camp for Jewish campers from the LGBTQ+ community. Machane Lev falls under the umbrella of Canadian Young Judaea and so it will continue to offer Jewish and Zionist programming, but with a queer twist. Machane Lev will work to create an environment that affirms and celebrates all gender identities, gender expressions and sexual identities.


Who is it for?

This camp is for campers aged 8- 16 years old who are Jewish and connected to the LGBTQ+ community. This is a broad definition as some campers may be the children of parents/guardians, who identify as (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer, Intersex, Asexual +) or the campers themselves may identify as LGBTQ+ or they may have a sibling or close relative who identifies within the community. 


Where is Machane Lev located?

Machane Lev will be hosted at Camp Shalom, in Gravenhurst, Ontario.


How much does the camp cost?

The camp will cost $1000 + HST. Subsidies are available upon request. Please contact the camp office for more details.


What will campers do at Machane Lev?

Campers will have the opportunity to participate in regular camp activities, such as swimming, boating, arts & crafts, drama, music, sports, and other exciting fare. For older campers, leadership programming will also be part of their camp day. Campers will have time to also develop bonds and build community both with their cabins and with the camp as a whole. Each night, age-specific groups will hold an Evening Program, that will be dedicated to different topics that will intersect Jewish, Queer and Trans* identities.

Shabbat is also a special time at camp, where campers will have an opportunity to celebrate Shabbat in a meaningful way that affirms all identities. A famous recipe for rainbow challah is sure to be a hit!


Where will campers sleep?

Campers can elect to sleep in an all gender cabin, a girls’ cabin or a boys’ cabin. This decision will be based upon the campers’ self-identification.


What is the plan for staffing?

The Executive Director of Canadian Young Judaea, Risa Epstein, has been instrumental in getting this camp started, and will be the Director of the camp. She previously ran Camp Solelim for 13 years, and has tremendous experience running summer camps. Mark Kachuck will be the Program Director. We also have a Director of Trans & Queer Programming and a Director of Camper Care. All front-line staff are currently being recruited and invited to apply for positions in the camp. The majority of the staff will be from or closely connected to the LGBTQ+ community.


How will my child travel to the camp?

There will be a bus that will pick up campers in Toronto and drive them to Camp Shalom. This bus fare will be included with the cost of the camp. Additional costs will incur for campers travelling from further locations. For travel subsidies, please contact the camp office.