The George E. Jonas Foundation, which runs the summer school, was established in 1996 by a group of Danes who over the past 60 years have participated in two similar American summer programs.
These two summer programs, one for girls (first season in 1989) and one for boys (first season in 1930), are run by the American foundation, The Louis August Jonas Foundation (www.lajf.org). The network of alumni is approximately 5000 worldwide.
Each summer since 1946 a Danish boy has participated in Camp Rising Sun, the American summer school, in the state of New York. It is an international summer school with participants from many countries throughout the world. For two months, boys of 15-16 years of age form a community based on tolerance, cooperation, democracy, humanism, and leadership performance. Since 1989 there has been a similar summer school in the USA for girls, and each year a Danish girl has participated.
In 1952, the Danish alumni of the school formed The Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association of Denmark . One of its principal tasks is to be responsible for the selection of the Danish participants in the summer schools and to give them support both before and after their stay at the school. The association now hasve more than 70 members between 15 and 70 years of age.
In 1996 the Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association of Denmark instituted The George E. Jonas Foundation with the aim of establishing an European summer school in Denmark (Camp Rising Sun Europe) inspired by the American summer school Camp Rising Sun.
The structure and content of the European summer school are by and large similar to the American summer schools, but it does differ in some respects:
- First of all, it receives participants from a much wider selection of countries, as the host country is not over represented as it is in the American schools.
- Secondly, it concentrates on Europe, which provides 2/3 of the participants with representation sought from all European countries, while the rest come from other parts of the world.
- Further, English as the common language is the mother tongue of only a limited number of the participants.
- In addition, owing to the geographical situation of the school there is stronger focus on European culture, through the many European participants, through lectures and discussions, and through excursions and hikes.
Since 2001 the George E. Jonas Foundation has bbeen able to find financial support for running the summer school. Thise financial support has come from other foundations, private donors and the EU.
GEJF is financially independent of the American Foundation.