It is with deep sadness that the Board and professional leadership of the Mandel JCC and Camp Wise have made the very painful and difficult decision to cancel our Camp Wise Summer 2020 season. After careful consideration and consultation with experts, it became increasingly clear that the risks to bringing our community together in-person this summer would be extraordinarily unique and challenging with no guarantee of the safety and well-being of anyone. Ultimately, the decision was made and founded upon one goal – to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. This includes our professional and summer staff, the returning campers who love their summers spent at Camp Wise, the new campers who were looking forward to their first overnight camp experience, their families at home, and others they are connected to and responsible for in their communities. In this unprecedented moment in time, we believe it is incumbent upon us to do what we ask our campers and staff to strive for every day each summer, which is to live by our Camp Wise values, even when it’s hard and involves sacrifice.
As we begin to adjust to new routines for working and learning at home, we hope that the programming that Camp Wise has offered virtually has been a source of comfort and positivity for you and your families. We have enjoyed connecting with you all in this way, and we are committed to continuing to bring Camp Wise virtual programs and opportunities for connection during this time. On a personal note, I have loved connecting with campers, parents, staff, and alumni over the last few weeks and I am reminded of the resilience and the strength of our community.
I really value how much Camp Wise cares about bringing international staff to camp. The cultural exchange it affords provides a great opportunity for campers to learn about the rest of the world, and it gives staff a chance to learn about and experience life in a pluralistic Jewish community (whether they’re Jewish or not). One of my fondest memories is spending time with my campers, sharing stories of my home, answering their questions, laughing at silly different words we have for the same thing, and then debating which one is the right one!
SIT year was a phenomenal experience—it was truly life-changing. We had so many opportunities to bond with each other as well as campers and staff, and we lead activities that utilized our critical and creative thinking skills. Truth be told, more than we ever expected. The transition from camper to ILS to SIT might seem intimidating, but the SIT program was a perfect capstone to our past few years’ camp journey. We have all had counselors who significantly impacted us when we were campers, and to have the opportunity this summer to be that person for our campers was incredible.
Picture this: you’re going on a four week trip to Israel with forty-one of your closest friends. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly how we spent our last month. The Camp Wise Israel Leadership Summer (ILS) experience taught us leadership in a way we would never have been able to learn anywhere else, and we can’t wait to show off our new skills in upcoming years as future staff members of Camp Wise. We had the time of our lives in Israel, and we’re so excited to tell you all about it!