By BERNIE BELLAN B’nai Brith Camp, located on Town Island in Lake of the Woods since 1954, has embarked on the most ambitious capital campaign in the camp’s history.
At a campaign launch, held Monday, November 14, at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in the downstairs lounge, various individuals associated with the camp spoke about the role that BB Camp has played in their own lives, and their goals for the capital campaign.
Irwin Corobow, Chair of the BB Camp Board, said that “the love and affection that people have for BB Camp has no bounds.”
Brenda Tessler-Donen, the long-time executive director of the camp, remarked that “it was never about the buildings at the camp; it was always about the people.”
She added, however, that many of the buildings on the camp site are in need of improvement.
In addition, according to information handed out at the campaign kick-off, one of the goals of the capital campaign will be to provide funds for the construction of “new residential and program buildings”.
The catalyst for the idea of initiating a major capital campaign came with the news two years ago that, after many years of negotiation, BB Camp had finally secured title to 30 acres of Town Island.
Previously the camp had rented the land from the Town of Kenora. As a result of the deal to purchase those 30 acres, BB Camp now has a mortgage on the land.
A further part of the capital campaign will be devoted to retiring that mortgage.
Tessler-Donen did say that almost $3 million of the $6-8 million that is the target amount of the campaign has already been raised. Major donors will be able to have various components of the camp named for themselves, up to and including changing the name of the camp (for $1.5 million).
In the hand-out distributed at the capital campaign launch, various statistics were cited to show how integral Jewish overnight camp is in the lives of camp alumni.
Included among those statistics were the following pieces of information about the long-term effects of overnight camp years later on former campers*:
55% are more likely to feel emotionally attached to Israel
45% are more likely to attend synagogue at least once a month
37% are more likely to light candles regularly for Shabbat
30% are more likely to donate to a Jewish federation
26% are more likely to be members of a synagogue
25% are more likely to donate to a Jewish charity
21% are more likely to feel that being Jewish is very important