A new era begins at Camp B’nai Brith

Photo : CBB

Photo : CBB

On the heels of celebrating its 90th anniversary, Camp B’nai Brith (CBB) moves into a new era with the retirement of Executive Director Frank Weinstein, who led the camp for more than 20 years of growth and success. Stepping in after a stint as Director of the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre is Josh Pepin, whose love for camping dates back to when he was a 17-year-old counselor at CBB.

“We expect this transition in leadership puts us on the right track, looking ahead to the next 90 years,” enthused Joey Adler, President of CBB. She has been a catalyst for ensuring the camp’s continued modernization and progress.

“Every Jewish kid should have the opportunity for a Jewish camping experience,” says Pepin. “We offer the complete package, all the activities they could hope for, along with an extraordinary opportunity to explore and develop a sense of Jewish identity and appreciation for Jewish culture and values that will enrich the rest of their lives.”

CBB is part of a community-wide GEN J initiative to encourage first-time campers, called One Happy Camper. This program gives a one-time grant to children who have never before attended a Jewish overnight camp. In the two years for which it has been available, it has proven remarkably successful: more than 300 grants have been awarded; between 2008 and 2009, more than 80% of the first-time campers returned to Jewish camp for a second year.

Harrell Wittenstein, an international expert in Jewish camping who has been engaged to help with the on-going development of CBB, identifies key outcomes for campers, “Our focus is on what each child gets from attending a Jewish camp: self-esteem, new friends, a sense of independence and confidence, Jewish identity, and skill-based activities, whether in arts and crafts, water sports, team sports, to give just a couple of examples. We know that CBB rivals or exceeds any other available camping experience.”

A new leadership program is being implemented for camp counselors. Beginning at age 16, aspiring counselors will follow a two-year apprenticeship before becoming full-fledged staffers at 18. Among the qualities they will display is a solid understanding of the camp environment and, most importantly, a desire for making a difference in the life of a younger person. Because of their proximity in age to the campers, counselors have an important opportunity to play a mentorship role.

The clear advantage of CBB lies in the Jewish quality of its environment. Studies have shown the positive impact that summer camping has on subsequent involvement in Jewish community life. Especially for those children who do not attend Jewish day school, summer camp is a rare opportunity to learn about being Jewish and, moreover, to live in an environment where being Jewish matters and has meaning on a constant basis.

There is still time to register for summer 2011 at Camp B’nai Brith. For information, visit the web site at www.cbbmtl.org or call 514.735.3669.

Federation CJA allocated more than $520,000 to Camp B’nai Brith for 2010-2011.