Dimensions of Youth Identity Formation at a Reform Jewish Summer Camp in Central Texas
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For young Jews in North America, the discovery of Jewish identity—sometimes colloquially referred to as “Jewishness”—can often be confusing, exhausting, and even surprising. Many Jewish youth in America first become consciously aware of their Jewish identity formation in conjunction with the practice of their faith and with major Jewish life events (i.e., becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, attending a Jewish day school or Jewish summer camp, or a trip to the State of Israel). This study focuses on URJ Greene Family Camp (GFC), a residential Jewish summer camp in central Texas, primarily investigating dimensions of Jewish youth identity formation through an interdisciplinary theoretical framework in anthropology, organizational communication, and recreation and heritage studies. The dataset consists of nine (9) semi-structured interviews with current 12^(th) graders who recently completed the counselor-in-training program in the 2013 summer season. These conversations reveal struggles with negotiating multiple identities as a result of summer experiences at GFC. In addition to analyzing common themes in the data, the researcher also leans on an atypical form of data analysis called poetic transcription to engage with the data creatively. Through auto-ethnography, this project allows the researcher to struggle with finding the balance between being an insider and an outsider in relation to Greene Family Camp and this thesis. This project revealed that each summer is a new phase of liminal experiences that contribute to campers’ ever-changing identities explored at camp and those expressed elsewhere because of camp experiences.
Dangott, Jessica (2014). Dimensions of Youth Identity Formation at a Reform Jewish Summer Camp in Central Texas. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from