Camp B’nai Brith welcomes new director

For the first time since 2007, Camp B’nai Brith of Ottawa has looked outside its “home-grown” camp family for a director, and board chair Adam Tanner is thrilled with their new hire Dov “Bear” Shapiro.  

“We didn’t have anyone in-house who was ready to take over the reins. We also felt it was an excellent opportunity in our history to make some significant changes,” said Tanner. “By going out to the market, we felt like we were able to attract people well-entrenched in the camping industry but who, at the same time, brought different experiences than we had been used to.” 

Tanner said Shapiro allows CBB to bridge both old and new, by bringing a fresh approach.  

“It’s a fresh start and a recharge,” he added.  

Over the past 35 years, Shapiro has created a tremendous positive impact as a consultant with CBB of Montreal, as director and owner of Camp Chateaugay in New York, and as a director with Westcoast Connection.  

“He’s really bringing 20 years of camping experiences into our gates,” said Tanner. “At the same time, he’s had 35 years of working with children. We really felt comfortable that he possessed both the experience and professionalism needed to move right into the role.” 

For Shapiro, coming to CBB of Ottawa was a natural next step — his father was president of CBB Quebec in the 1960s.  

“He always told me it was the most rewarding job he ever had. Growing up, dad taught me the value and importance of supporting the Jewish community through Tzedakah and Tikun Olam, so this role has always been on my mind,” said Shapiro. “I sold my camp six years ago and have missed the camping culture ever since, so when I learned of the position I jumped on the opportunity.” 

So far, there has been great synergy and excitement. 

“Along with the capital upgrades, Dov comes in at a great time to generate a lot of excitement amongst all of our stakeholders,” said Tanner, adding that feedback from the camp family so far is overwhelmingly positive.  

“People are excited about the change, a feeling of people being reenergized,” he said.  

Shapiro is looking forward to helping bring kids out of the last few years of pandemic-altered camp experiences. 

“I’m looking forward to giving our campers the best summer of their lives and being a part of the camp spirit (ruach) while working in a safe, nurturing environment with new and alumni staff who love and adore CBBO,” he said. “I can’t wait for the smell of a campfire at night while we sing songs and nosh down on s’mores — with two layers of chocolate!” 

For Shapiro, camp is about building confidence and self-esteem.  

“Now more than ever our youth and adolescents are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges,” he said. “One of the unique aspects of camp is how the fun-loving environment helps children, and adults, learn to forget about the woes in life. At camp, we also do things we don’t often have the chance to do anywhere else. We sing, cheer, and shout as LOUD as possible, and do things we wouldn’t dare do anywhere else in the world — like wear clothing backward and dance like no one’s watching — just because we can.” 

CBB would like to thank past director Cindy Benedek and interim director Justin Shulman, along with team members remaining on staff: Jill Doctor and Marnie Gontovnick, for their service. 

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