Our story began in 1951 with the creation on Camp JCA by the Jewish Centers Association of Los Angeles. Located in San Bernardino’s Barton Flats, the camp consisted of 8 cabins, a large lodge with a laundry, kitchen, dining room and recreation hall. There was also a large pool, 75 showers, 2 sets of toilets, a barn, a stable and a storage building.
In the 1960s, Camp JCA solidified itself as a group centered camp that aimed to provide campers an opportunity to have fun, be outdoors, and to develop a positive understanding of their Jewish identities. During this period, Camp JCA thrived with high enrollment and a great reputation in the community. To address growing demand, in 1972 a second location in Malibu was purchased and Camp JCA-Malibu was born.
Due to the instability of the economy, from 1975 until 1985, Camp JCA had little growth. At this time a decision was made to close Barton Flats. The name was changed to Camp Sholom at Malibu and the camp became a more activity oriented than group centered. After the summer of 1985, the Jewish Community Centers Association decided to put “JCA” back in the name, finally making it Camp JCA Shalom and adding back the more group- centered approach.
With expanding year-round programming, in 1999, Camp JCA Shalom, transformed itself into the Shalom Institute: Camp and Conference Center with Camp JCA Shalom as the core program. In 2005, following the dissolution of the centralized JCC system in Los Angeles, Shalom Institute became an independent nonprofit organization.
Today, the Shalom Institute runs educational retreats, holiday programs, family camps, festivals, farm programs, and provides outdoor adventure experiences and environmental education to Jewish organizations throughout the year. Camp JCA Shalom enrollment is at an all-time high, new programs are being created, and facilities are constantly being upgraded.
With its recent success and new direction, the Shalom Institute continues to be a tremendous asset to the Los Angeles Jewish community and has become a premiere Jewish camping institute in North America.