To the residents of Lincoln City, the B’nai B’rith Day Camp might be a hidden treasure. Organizers said the camp epitomizes the spirit of performing a good deed and strives to make the world a better place by investing in children.
Born in 2006 as a effort to fulfill a community need, the day camp is described by Michelle Koplan, executive director of BB Camp, as a thriving, unique camp offering and a safe haven for hundreds of underserved children who are gifted a camp experience.
In 2004, Koplan noticed a large number of unsupervised children in town. She learned that there was limited childcare and no camp programs in the area.
“Day camp was an opportunity to significantly serve kids in Lincoln City while supporting the community that BB Camp has called home since 1921,” Koplan said. “Some of the kids have little or no food available at home, but they are assured a meal and two snacks daily at day camp.”
Koplan said the day camp runs alongside the overnight camp and utilizes all of the camp's facilities, activities, programs, and professional staff.
The camp activities include inner tubing, canoeing, wakeboarding, creative arts, ropes course, arts and crafts, archery, environmental education, athletics, performing arts, swimming lessons and recreational swimming in the outdoor heated pool, and group games that promote character building, teamwork and leadership.
"It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm, confidence and friendships build day-by-day," Sari Tullis, day camp unit head, said “It’s a great feeling to know that you are changing lives through fun experiences.”
“It’s hard to put into words how great camp has been for my kids." Connie Davis, a foster mom said. Her nine children have attended the day camp.
"Camp is a main topic of conversation all year long as it has changed their lives through unconditional love and friendship.” She said. “The fun is just the icing on the cake.”
The camp runs weekdays for seven weeks and costs $120 per week. Financial aid is provided for families unable to pay.
“BB Camp stepped up to help the homeless and low income children in Lincoln City while creating positive experiences and life long memories for our youth,” Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson said. “BB Camp is also an economic development asset to Lincoln City – camp organizers buy locally, hire locally and employ year-round staff.”
To help support the need for scholarships, Anderson and his wife Sue chair an annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the camp. The dinner will take place at 6 p.m. May 15, at the camp, at 3905 N.E. East Devils Lake Rd., in Lincoln City. Tickets are $10.
City of Lincoln City, Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, United Way, Lincoln County Social Services, Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation and B’nai B’rith Camp Teen Philanthropy Program Fund, and MOJO Coffee Company also support the camp.
Suzye Kleiner resides in Scottsdale, AZ, and enjoys spending her summers at BB Camp. She has served as camp store manager, photographer and writer.