| Happy Campers: Sydney, Jake & Olivia
Last Spring when Stacy Beugen told her pre-teen kids Sydney, Jake and Olivia Burkons she had signed them up for Camp Wise, her children’s reaction was less than enthusiastic – to put it mildly.
Sydney, then 12, began sobbing and insisted her life was ruined. “Along with calling me the worst mom in the world, she wailed she could not possibly live without her cat, phone and her own bathroom,” says Stacy.
Stacy’s other two children got caught up in the drama and joined their sister in a Camp Wise boycott. But Stacy held her ground.
“For years I had heard nothing but glowing remarks about Camp Wise – the caring and exceptional counselors, the remarkable activities, the Jewish programming and the opportunity to make friends for a lifetime, says Stacy. “I knew once the kids got into the swing of things they would be just fine.”
On the morning the camp bus pulled out of the parking lot and headed out to Chardon, Stacy was anxious. To her immense relief a glowing letter soon arrived from Sydney.
Celebrating Shabbat, Camp Wise Style
Shortly, other upbeat letters began to arrive. Like other Camp Wise parents, Stacy regularly checked the Camp Wise website for pictures of her kids – and found lots of photos of them with their friends smiling and happily engaged in camp activities.
Camp Wise, the overnight camp of the Mandel JCC, is located in Chardon on 325 beautiful acres and serves 600 campers each summer. Camp Wise has received national recognition for innovation and excellence.
One of the most gratifying aspects for Rachel Felber, Camp Wise Director, is knowing that she and her sta are making a difference in the lives of so many kids and teens. “It is always so rewarding for camp sta to see new campers quickly turn into Camp Wise raving fans,” says Rachel. “Sydney, Jake and Olivia thrived at camp. Our dedicated and talented staff helped them learn new skills and the importance of teamwork. In turn, the kids left camp with more confidence, independence and a stronger sense of their Jewish identity. We are all looking forward to having them return this summer.”
When the kids came home from camp –the tears started again. “This time Sydney was crying because she already missed her counselors and the new friends she made at camp,” says Stacy.
Stacy has nothing but praise for the Mandel JCC and Camp Wise. “Camp was everything I had hoped it would be for my children and so much more,” Stacy said. She is also thankful for the financial assistance The J provided her children. Approximately 10% of the kids who attend Camp Wise require financial assistance to make camp possible to attend. “Our family has recently been going through a tough time and it has taken its toll on the kids,” she says. “Without the assistance The J provided there is no way I could have sent my children to camp,” she added. “The magic of Camp Wise changed my children’s lives.”
To see her children get away for three weeks and come back home content, happy and silly again, and ready to return to school was a real blessing for Stacy. “I owe it all to The J, Camp Wise and the Jewish community. When this challenging time ends, my goal is to pay it forward.”