A letter from camp: Counsellor shares his CBB summer experience

Photo: CIT Jake Berman shares a fun moment with camper Georgia Slack.


People often say “home is where the heart is.” Home doesn’t have to be somewhere you live, but where you feel like you are truly at home. Camp has always been an extremely special place for me. I always feel like I can be my true self at camp and I find the summers at CBB are among the best.

When people ask me why camp is so great I never tell them about certain activities or events that take place, I always talk about the people. Some of my closest friends are all from camp, which is pretty remarkable as it is only 7 weeks out of the year. These intense relationships show the power of camp friendships, which is one of the reasons why camp is so special. The Jewish connection is also something that is strong and alive at camp. Some people don’t really feel like they have much of a Jewish identity in the city, but at camp everyone brings their own Jewish values and traditions and it helps you feel more connected and part of a community. Personally, camp was where I started to really acknowledge what being Jewish meant to me. Camp has helped me connect more with others like me and makes me feel proud to be Jewish.

This has been an extra special summer for so many reasons, but primarily because this is my CIT year. The CIT (counselor in training) program is a leadership program that helps prepare you to be a staff member, and so far, has been amazing, fun and rewarding! Being a CIT has given me so many great opportunities to help and guide campers. When I first got to CBB in 2012 as a first-year junior, I was 7 years old and looked up to my CITs. Now I feel proud to know I have come full circle to be that role model for someone else. I love helping these campers learn, grow, and make memories that will last forever.

As we unfortunately missed last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the upsides is that it helped people to be even more excited and ready for summer 2021. Not only did the pandemic force us to be trapped at home, but it had a huge impact on people’s mental health. I can speak from experience as I personally struggled this past year and being in a stay-at-home order only made things worse. Camp was always a glimmer of hope and a goal to strive towards for me and I’m sure it was for others. Camp was a way for people to forget about the previous year’s struggles and enjoy their summer.

The idea of a COVID-free summer was only made possible by the precautions CBB took to ensure the safety of everyone at the camp. Although wearing masks, staying six feet apart, and being outside all the time wasn’t ideal, it was very much worth it because after the final COVID tests, we finally accomplished the end goal: to be able to live our best lives in a “normal” camp setting. In spite of all these restrictions, the true magic of camp was clear, as these safety measures did not prevent people from learning new things, forming new relationships and having the best summer ever.

Camp is the greatest place on earth, it has not only helped me with my personal issues and struggles but it has helped give me purpose and figure out who I truly am. Camp has a very special impact on people, which is why everyone comes back year after year. Although there have been some hard times, CBB always finds a way to adapt and make each summer better than the last one. #strongertogether

- Jake Berman, CBB CIT 2021

Note: The Jewish Federation of Ottawa was proud to provide Emergency Funding to CBB of $116,300.