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About Camp Ben Frankel

Providing Lifelong Memories Since 1949



Camp Ben Frankel’s mission is to build a lifelong camp family for Jewish children from all backgrounds to explore their identities in an inclusive and welcoming environment, one amazing summer at a time.


We offer two amazing types of camp experiences: CBF Overnight (in-person) and CBF Online (virtual). 


At CBF we combine the wisdom of industry best-practices, decades of experienced leadership, strategic partnerships, and an open-minded approach to develop programs and activities that meet or exceed the high expectations of our campers, parents, and camp staff. 


Safety comes first and Camp Ben Frankel is proudly accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). Why is that important? The American Camp Association collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at Camp Ben Frankel reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. Learn more about ACA accreditation here.


In 2019, CBF Overnight offered more than 100 high-quality activities and was named to Chicago Parent Magazine's 2019 list of 10 amazing camps. 


In 2020, CBF Online’s high-quality programming quickly captured attention around the globe and was featured in the Jewish Telegraph Agency, The Forward, The Telegraph (UK), the St. Louis Jewish Light, and eJewishPhilanthropy. CBF’s directors were asked to speak and lead trainings at camp conferences and to teachers at hebrew schools, day schools, and synagogues.


We work closely with strategic partners whose missions and values align with ours to help better serve our community. Partners include the Foundation For Jewish Camp, JCamp180, Jewish Camps USA, Life and Legacy, and Jewish Federations across the country. In October 2020, we were presented with the JCamp180 Outstanding Board Leadership Award. 

The key to an amazing camp experience: THE CAMP STAFF

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

We’re proud of the passion and talent of our amazing staff members. We strongly believe that the most important factor in ensuring that campers have a wonderful experience at camp is the quality of the summer camp staff. We go to great lengths to ensure our counselors are of the highest quality possible. 


Before working with campers, staff members at CBF Overnight must:

  • Pass an extensive, 2-4 interview process

  • Pass a thorough reference check

  • Pass a background check

  • Complete 15-20 hours of pre-camp online training (also eligible for college credit)

  • Complete two weeks of training on site


Our counselors and staff proudly participate in the following programs:

  • The Cornerstone Program by the Foundation For Jewish Camp

  • The Mental Health and Wellness Internship by the Foundation For Jewish Camp

  • Masa Leadership and Impact Center’s Jewish Camp Gap Year Track

  • The American Camp Association National Conference

  • The JCamp180 Annual Conference

  • Songleader Boot Camp

CBF Staff

Camp Ben Frankel Overnight:

Located in Makanda, IL


Our overnight camp is the perfect place for children looking for a Jewish experience that is welcoming and fun. Campers rave about the high-quality counselors and the variety and quality of activities. Parents trust the professional leadership and love seeing the joy and growth that their children experience after a summer at CBF. 

In 2021, CBF Overnight offers 4-week and 2-week options for campers completing 2nd-11th grades for the 2020-2021 academic year.

CBF Overnight is located in Makanda, Illinois within easy driving distance of St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Memphis, & Nashville.

Overnight Camp

Camp Activities




The Arts

The Thrill of Athletics


Camp Ben Frankel Online:


Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 12.38.20

In 2020, CBF Overnight was cancelled as a result of Covid-19. However, CBF continued to provide an amazing summer experience through the launch of Camp Ben Frankel Online, a groundbreaking virtual camp experience lauded for its industry-leading innovation and the incredible testimonials from campers, parents, and staff. 


At CBF Online, children from across the US (and other countries) build lifelong friendships, have wholesome fun, and learn valuable life skills from CBF’s incredibly talented and passionate staff. CBF Online offers seasonal online camps as well as year-round options. Campers experience the opposite of screen fatigue - the joyful and energizing experience of camp.

Virtual Camp Activities

Choose from 100+ each summer!



The Thrill of Athletics

Sports activities reimagined online including sports announcing and podcasting, fitness, dance, yoga, martial arts, fantasy sports and more!


Ready, Set, Go!

The perfect way to laugh and build friendships in highly interactive and collaborative activities like Dungeons and Dragons, group party games, strategy games, Magic The Gathering, and escape the breakout room. 

Music & Media

Sing, Play, Create

Score your own musical composition - just like in the movies, write and record your own song, create music videos, design your own apparel, or produce a weekly online camp newspaper!


The Arts

Find Your Inner Artist

Visual and culinary arts include cooking show challenges, painting with Bob Ross, drawing, crafting, sculpture, upcycling and jewelry making.

Theater arts include improv, voiceover, screenwriting, acting, and musical theater!

Online Programming:

Beginning in the Fall of 2020, CBF Online began offering expanded weekly online programs, including Kabbalat Shabbat services, bunk activities, evening programs, and CBF Online: Winter Edition.

Online Camp

Core Values:

  • Prioritizing campers - We use training, experience, and good judgment as guides towards the primary responsibility of ensuring each camper’s physical and emotional safety. 


  • Enjoying good friendship, fun, and excitement - We endeavor to create an environment where every  camper makes friends through fun and joyful experiences.


  • Living Jewishly - We provide opportunities for each camper, from any Jewish background, to create meaningful Jewish experiences to ensure they feel positively connected with Judaism, tikkun olam, and Israel.


  • Promoting inclusivity - We support and celebrate each camper’s individual needs by valuing diversity, guided by the belief that every Jewish child deserves a welcoming Jewish community that supports their emotional, physical, and financial needs. 


  • Pursuing growth, learning, and exploration - We create an environment that welcomes curiosity and embraces innovation by supporting campers as they develop the skills of independence, responsibility, confidence, and resilience.


  • Creating immersive experiences - We encourage campers to feel immersed and present in camp’s rich experiences in order to appreciate the unique community and activities that camp offers.


  • Creating family - We aim to build a lifelong community of campers and staff who respect and support one another through open communication, respectful debate, and shared experiences.

Core Values

Inclusive Judaics

Honor Heritage. Respect Tradition. Build Pride.

Camp Ben Frankel is an inclusive, pluralist Jewish community. We welcome campers from all Jewish backgrounds. We nurture a connection to Israel and impart the beauty, meaningfulness, and relevance of Judaism and Hebrew into our campers’ everyday lives.

Each morning, campers can choose from different options for services. Examples include a communal service in Hebrew, an English teaching service, guided meditation, nature exploration, a percussion service, a jogging service -- and more. The goals are to empower campers with the freedom to explore, learn, and find meaningfulness in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. Campers and staff who are interested are encouraged to learn how to lay tefillin, wear a tallis, and to daven.

We have a kosher kitchen and celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays that fall during the session. Motzi and Birkat are recited at every meal.


Connection To Israel

We nurture a proud connection to Israel through special programs and daily activities that teach campers and staff about the religious, historical and cultural importance of Israel to the Jewish people. Our camp community includes Israeli campers and counselors from the Jewish Agency for Israel. 



At Camp Ben Frankel, we believe strongly in the inclusion of campers with special needs and varying ability levels. We believe that all campers should have access to a fun, challenging, vigorous and enjoyable camping experience, no matter the challenges that face them. 


To this end, we partner with Keshet, an internationally recognized leader in the field of inclusion. We also have staff with specific qualifications to assist in the inclusion of campers who might otherwise not be able to participate in or access overnight camp and its resources. 


Our Director of Camper Care and Inclusion is a licensed school social worker with over 15 years of experience working with students with special needs in various school and community settings and is well versed in inclusion programming. 


Additionally, we have Inclusion Counselors, trained to provide personalized inclusion services to any campers who need them. Inclusion Counselors are closely supervised by our Director of Camper Care and Inclusion and hired specifically to work with our special needs campers. These counselors follow specific education and inclusion plans to help make each special needs camper’s experience smooth and supported. 


We will do everything we can to accommodate every camper who wants to attend Camp Ben Frankel and we strive to individualize our approach to enhance each camper’s experience. We do thorough intakes of campers with special needs and work closely with parents, teachers and other key members of our campers’ communities to assure personalized care, while utilizing a person-in-environment approach.

Additionally, we closely review student IEPs and 504 plans to assure that we are supporting these plans and providing the continuity necessary to make the campers’ experience rewarding and all encompassing. At the end of the day, if your future camper has special needs and wants to come to camp, our goal is to help you rest assured that they will be included, loved and accepted as part of our camp.

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