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December 1, 2021

“Do not separate yourself from the community.” – Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot

At Camp Solomon Schechter, we create a community where our kids can be their full selves and experience the power of belonging. Over the past two years, they have been through an extraordinary number of challenges and hardships. I was losing sleep at night worried our campers and staff would miss another summer at camp, so I created the Washington State Camp Coalition, representing the 145+ camps in the state, which advocated for the importance of resident camp at the state level. In collaboration with the Governor’s office, we wrote the state guidance for reopening resident camps. In late April, our guidance was adopted, and the state approved us to reopen. We celebrated and then shifted to the joyous work of welcoming campers back to camp.

Fast forward to opening day, Sunday, June 27th. Yes, it was 116 degrees out! (I’m still shvitzing.) We had waited two long years to see our campers arrive back at the most magical place on earth; move over Disneyland! The pure joy and energy of watching our staff welcome the arrival of our campers was contagious. They smiled from ear to ear, embracing their camp friends with monster hugs. It was a beautiful sight to see and took my breath away. It was magical, inspiring, and everything of which we could have hoped and dreamed. It was the exact antidote they needed to remember what it was like to be a kid. As that transformation set in, all the hard work to reopen camp was worth it.

Kids need to run free, be courageous, be creative, be curious, and be compassionate. At camp we create a space for our campers to build confidence, surround themselves with friends on which they can count, build a deeper sense of community, and celebrate being Jewish. Campers get to shine at camp and be the best version of themselves. It is truly remarkable. Creating a safe and healthy place for our campers and staff was especially impactful this year.

“In summer 2021, I was able to attend CSS. This meant everything to me. I had a very hard year feeling isolated because of COVID, and my dad was very sick fighting colon cancer. Camp was a place where I could actually have fun, meet new kids, and be myself. I was able to feel like a normal teenager again with other people who were understanding and sensitive to me. Camp really helped me cope with all the hard things and allowed me to have some fun. It was very important to my dad for me to go to camp.”

–  Max, 2021 First Time Camper

We tried to anticipate the mental, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of our campers and staff. As much as we prepared, we were surprised in many areas. We knew some of our campers were going to struggle, we just didn’t know how much. We integrated therapists and specialists into the camp community to learn, listen, and talk with our campers. We intentionally hired additional staff to ensure we could meet the needs of all our campers.

The support system and network needed to support our campers was, and will need to continue to be, extensive. When you zoom out, summer 2021 was incredible and life changing, but it is important to call attention to the campers and staff who struggled. We want all our campers and staff to thrive at camp, but how do we continue to fully support them? How do we provide a safe community for our greatest gifts? How do we take the time to listen and not judge this vulnerable demographic?

Camp is the answer; the power of camp is real! Let’s make sure camp is affordable, available, inclusive, welcoming, filled with loving and capable childcare professionals and resources, and infused with Jewish values and immersive programming. We need to continue to double down and invest in our kids, who are our future and most prized possessions in the world.

Please join me in supporting the power of Camp Solomon Schechter and our campers with a donation of $18, $36, $180, or $360 paid today, monthly, or quarterly. Donate today by clicking here or on Venmo at @Camp-Schechter.

DONATE NOW!

Happy Chanukah!

Zach Duitch, Executive Director

 

PS:  Save the date for Schechter Spark. We will honor Judith & Garry Kahn, the 2022 recipients of the Rabbi Joshua & Goldie Stampfer, z”l, Migdal Or Award! It will be held virtually on Sunday, May 1, 2022.


November 30, 2020
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Dear CSS Community,

In a normal year, I write our annual appeal to tout our recent successes and let you know how much your gift will make a difference in the lives of Jewish children all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. And, while this year has been an extraordinary time of great successes and impactful giving from our community, I thought I’d take a different approach to our annual appeal. Following our summer program’s cancelation – the first time in Schechter’s sixty-eight year history! – our staff called every camp family to check in on our campers. The outpouring of support that our Camp team received throughout that period, both financial and emotional, quite literally, moved us to tears. So, this year, rather than telling you directly how much your gift will impact our community, I’d like to share a letter I received from a camp grandmother. (Names have been changed to ensure anonymity.) 

DONATE NOW

Dear Zach, 

Thank you for calling and checking in on Abby last week. She is still coming to terms with the fact that she will not be spending this summer in her favorite place on Earth, Camp Solomon Schechter. You told us that our family means the world to CSS, and I wanted to reach back out and let you know how much CSS means to our family. When I asked Abby what she’d like to share with you, she said, “Schechter is totally FUN!” And, while I do not doubt that Camp is “totally fun,” I know that it is a whole lot more than that as well.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because I was not raised in a Jewish home. I discovered Jewish values and culture later in life, and I am doing my best to provide a Jewish upbringing for my children and grandchildren. Camp has a way of making learning “cool.” Abby returns home each summer excited to sing songs, lead prayers, do activities, and just about anything else, Schechter-style! The lessons she learns at CSS make a lasting impression on her and support what I do at home.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because I am raising Abby as a single grandparent, and she needs to spend time with a younger crowd, filled with ruach (spirit) and energy! At Camp, she gets to be with kids, doing fun kids things, from morning until night. She gets to hear music that is not from the 60s. ~lol~ And I also get to have a bit of quiet, “me” time, which is something I don’t often get, having been raising kids now for nearly forty years.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because Camp has been there to support us financially. For decades I was a stay at home mom and did not work. Now, I am starting over with a young grandchild and still finding my financial footing. What’s more, I had to step back from my job to be with Abby, who is now home during the day for school. Money for Camp is simply not in the budget. I know I am not the only single grandparent or parent who is struggling in our community. We struggle quietly so as not to draw attention — but we are here, and we’d never be able to give our kids/grandchildren these experiences without Camp’s financial assistance.

Schechter has always supported us when I asked for assistance and, now, we are here for you. Please convert my deposit into a donation for Camp, so I can return the goodness. Tzedakah (charity) is an important Jewish value in our home and one that I hope to instill in Abby, no matter how much we may be struggling.

I wish you the best through these difficult times. I have faith that you and your team will navigate the road ahead, and I will be able to send Abby back next summer. In the meantime, we will be singing, dancing, praying, and doing activities — Schechter-style! — all summer long.

B’Shalom,

Sharon

Thanks to community members like Sharon, we will be ready to welcome back our campers in 2021! But we need your help. The loss of an entire year’s income has meant deep cuts to our staffing and programming budgets. And, most notably to families like Abby’s, it means less money available for financial assistance. Many families in our community are hurting right now, and the need for financial aid is greater than ever. After a year with no Camp, we don’t want a single camper to miss another summer due to affordability. We know that Jewish summers lead to Jewish futures and, as such, Camp should be a right, not a privilege, for every Jewish child. With your help, we can ensure that no one “suffers quietly,” and every camper can spend their summer in a “totally-fun,” fully-immersive Jewish environment and experience a whole lot more for themselves!

Your donations will go directly to:

  • Providing financial assistance to families who can’t afford Camp (and can’t afford to miss Camp);
  • Offsetting COVID related impact (PPE, testing, cleaning supplies, additional medical support); and
  • Creating sacred moments, where Judaism and joy are one!

You can easily donate today with our new CSS Venmo account (@Camp-Schechter). Every gift counts, whether it’s $36, $180, or $360 today; $18 a month; or more.

DONATE NOW

Happy Channukah,

Zach Duitch

Executive Director


December 27, 2019
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We are saddened by the news that Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, z”l, passed away yesterday evening. Rabbi Stampfer was the driving force in founding Camp Solomon Schechter, but his legacy goes much further. His tireless efforts over the past 65 years to strengthen Jewish institutions, make Conservative Judaism more accessible and inclusive, advocate for peace, and share his extraordinary scholarship through teaching have left us all a great legacy.

On a personal note, I will miss his wisdom, guidance, conversation and, most importantly, friendship. At an initial meeting with Rabbi after returning to CSS, we took this photo, and I have it framed in my office to remind me of Rabbi’s intention for camp . . . that we continue to inspire, teach, and empower our campers and staff to be proud of being Jewish. We will honor his commitment to building Jewish identity, community, and continuity by infusing Jewish tradition and culture at the foundation of everything we do. Rabbi Stampfer’s impact on our community will last forever.

Our thoughts are with Rabbi’s children, Elana (Matt, z”l), Meir (Claire), Nehama (Rod), Shaul (Sylviane), and daughter-in-law Carol (Noam, z”l), as well as 20 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. May you have strength and great memories of your loving parents and family.

Following a private (family only) interment, the funeral service will be Sunday, December 29th at 4:00pm at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland, 97239)The service will be followed by a meal of consolation, also at the synagogue.

The family will sit shiva and receive visitors at the Stampfer home (2800 Peaceful Lane, Portland 97239) from 12:00-5:00pm on Monday through Thursday and 12:00-3:00pm on Friday next week.

Shiva Minyanim are also scheduled for Monday through Thursday evenings (December 30, 31, January 1, and 2) at 7:00pm in Stampfer Chapel at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland, 97239).

Please do not bring food – the family has plenty.

The Jewish community has lost a truly great man. May Rabbi Joshua Stampfer’s memory be for a blessing and let all of us reflect on the many ways that he touched our lives.

B’Shalom,

 

Zach Duitch

CSS Executive Director


March 24, 2017
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Parents, with summer fast approaching, we would like to update you with Camp Solomon Schechter's security profile. Schechter has a renowned Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that others seek to implement. Our ERP is routinely shared as a sample of best practices for summer camps, and our Executive Director, Sam Perlin, is often being asked for advice.


Questions About Camp Solomon Schechter? Get in touch!
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