Over the years, and prior to assuming my current role on the board of Camp B’nai Brith (CBB) of Ottawa, I would often get asked the same question: “Why?”
Depending on who was posing the question, I typically knew the general context of their inquiry. Most times, it took one of two directions: “Why CBB of Ottawa?” or “Why do you give up your time?”
For me, the two questions are interrelated, but I’m sure the same could be said for most as it relates to your organization or cause of choice.
Although my CBB of Ottawa family history started with my parents in the late-1950s, my roots were laid as a seven-year-old little pisher in 1979. When I reflect on the question of “why,” the meaning has changed over the years, but the more I contemplate, the more things actually remain the same. In essence, we provide the same exciting experience today as the camp offered back when we started in 1935. Yes, the landscape has changed. Yes, our children now sleep in cabins with washrooms. Yes, we still provide a kosher environment. And, yes, from time to time, we may even play matchmaker.
This past summer, and looking forward to summer 2018, our enrolment has never been stronger. Why? I promise you it’s not because of the food! As was the case in 1935, we continue to offer a safe environment for our children to thrive, find their independence, foster responsibility, learn about themselves and about giving back, and, above all, we help plant their Jewish roots and enable friendships to form that will ultimately last a lifetime.
From studies, we know that summer camp teaches our children to value their heritage, that children who go to summer camp become engaged in their communities, support worthwhile causes and take leadership roles throughout their lives. We also know that camp activities emphasize independence, communication, problem solving, collaboration and leadership. For all of these reasons, I can always answer the first question of why CBB of Ottawa. In lieu of promotion for CBB, I would encourage all parents to send their children to summer camp. They all offer incredible programs, so find the one that works for your children.
I used to think my personal involvement with camp was for selfish reasons. Quite frankly, I got involved with only two children in mind – my own! My board involvement coincided, more or less, with personal family issues. I wanted to ensure that my children experienced the best summers of their lives – summers where they could thrive and escape their ‘city lives’ where some nights are at Dad’s and some nights at Mom’s. Camp has been, and continues to be, a level playing field where all children can just be children. I quickly learned that giving my time not only benefits my children, but all of our campers. That’s why our board continues to give our time, our donated dollars and most of all, that’s why we send our children to our home away from home – CBB of Ottawa.