BB Camp is dedicated to providing exceptional, transformational experiences to day and overnight campers. Staff engage in a plethora of professional development trainings, coaching cohorts, and leadership conferences in order to make BB Camp summers so memorable for all. 

We all know that staff members play a pivotal role at camp. Excellent counselors, program staff, and unit heads have the power to completely transform the camper experience. In many ways, staff set the tone for the BB Camp Kehila (Community). Their radiant enthusiasm and positivity trickle down to campers, who return it in spades. It is infectious, in the best way, and creates a positive camp culture based on mutual respect and admiration. And while seasonal staff frontline the camper experience, there is a small but mighty team of dedicated staff who work all year to prepare and cultivate an inspirational summer for staff and campers alike. Part of this preparation entails applying for, being awarded, and participating in programmatic and professional development grants and initiatives.

It is extremely unique for one camp to be awarded and engaged in so many programmatic grants at one time. It speaks volumes to our commitment to excellence! The following is a list of initiatives we are engaged in for Summer 2023:

Amiti Ivrit with Hebrew at the Center – Overnight Camp staff (Maddie Newman) learn how to seamlessly incorporate more Hebrew teaching and learning throughout the summer.

Avodah Institute for Social Change – Day Camp staff (Abby Evonuk) engage in cohort-learning on how to take on deep, sustainable, accountable, and effective justice work.

e21 in partnership with Foundation for Jewish Camp – Overnight and Day Camp Staff (Maddie Newman, Abby Evonuk, and Sammie Hagen) engage in skills-based framework learning, focused on communication, professionalism, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Foundation for Jewish Camp Cornerstone Fellowship – A strong, returning camp counselor (Ethan Rosenfeld) is invited to a seminar along with senior program staff (Maddie Newman, Alex Leveen, and ) to further develop skills and work on developing a special camp initiative for the summer. Our Cornerstone fellow this year chose to focus on teva, and developing meaningful connection to nature!

Foundation for Jewish Camp Hiddur Initiative – Day Camp staff (Abby Evonuk, Sammie Hagen) develop skills and strategies for enhanced Jewish learning through campers using their five senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.

Foundation for Jewish Camp Leaders Assembly – Largest national gathering of Jewish Camping professionals for a week of learning and connecting! Several staff and lay leaders attended this past December.

Foundation or Jewish Camp Yashar Internships – Overnight staff ( Anna Fuss, Ethan Rosenfeld, Kat Schmidt, Tyler Simpson) receive training on how to build inclusive camps for all campers, including those with disabilities.

Foundation for Jewish Camp Yedid Nefesh Overnight staff (Marisa Reby) participate in cohort-learning with other mental health professionals in the field.

Shivayon- Keshet in partnership with JCCA – Day Camp staff (Abby Evonuk, Sammie Hagen) receive training on enhancing LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Ta’amod in partnership with Foundation for Jewish Camp – Overnight and Day Camp year-round staff participate in learning on harassment prevention and creating healthy organizational culture.

RootOne Fellowship in partnership with JCCA – Teens get a chance to attend an enriching, empowering, and educational BB Camp summer program in Israel, with the help of generous RootOne vouchers.

Read on for a more in-depth look at a selection of the above cohorts and programs our BB Camp staff engage in (Hiddur Initiative, The Shivyon Project, and Yedid Nefesh.)

BB Day Campers

Hiddur Initiative  

BB Day Camp is one of five camps that were identified nationally by the Foundation for Jewish Camp as having the promising capacity to implement the Hiddur Initiative, and is participating in the inaugural pilot cohort! The project aims to help camps become more effective at delivering Jewish educational experiences in ways that align with each camp’s unique Jewish mission.

Abby Evonuk and Sammie Hagen have been paired with coach Amy Meltzer, Senior Jewish Educator at the FJC. Of her experience coaching Abby and Sammie, Amy shared the following, “I have been continually and increasingly impressed by Abby and Sammie. Their commitment and passion for BB Day Camp were obvious from the beginning. One thing we have really focused on is empowerment and increasing their confidence in their identity as Jewish Educators, in ways that feel authentic to them.”  

What does Hiddur Mean?

The concept of beautifying or enhancing a Jewish ritual by appealing to the senses is called Hiddur Mitzvah. Sounds (camp chants!), tastes (challah!), textures and colors (signage!) elevate our Jewish experiences. Through The Hiddur Initiative, campers will use all of their senses to experience reinvigorated, creative models of Jewish learning.

One area of emphasis BB Day Camp identified as a priority was creating an outcome in which all campers, staff, and families are familiar with BB Camp’s seven guiding Jewish values: COURAGE (Ometz Lev), JOY (Simcha), PEACE (Shalom), FRIENDSHIP (Chaverut), COMMUNITY (Kehila), HERITAGE (Dor L’Dor) & REPAIRING THE WORLD (Tikkun Olam). They will implement this through visuals/signage and by creating a special camp chant for friendship circle time. By the end of the day camp week, every camper should be very familiar with these values! 

Shivyon Keshet Equality Project 

Summer camps are a staple of American Jewish life. They provide fun and enriching opportunities for campers and emerging leaders to develop intrinsic skills and knowledge, and learn more about who they are as unique individuals. However, some campers and staff who identify as LGBTQ+ have reported that they have not always felt safe to be their full, authentic selves; that they’ve had to hide parts of their identity to actively participate in camp life. This fast-growing segment of the Jewish community deserves to be open and proud about who they are, and BB Camp is setting an example for how to implement inclusive and affirming practices by participating in a year-long Shivyon Equality Project for Jewish Day Camps.  

This Shivyon Project is facilitated by Keshet, the national nonprofit dedicated to the full equality of all LGBTQ+ individuals and their families in Jewish life. With Keshet, BB Camp is participating in a cohort with the goal of moving toward LGBTQ+ equality and belonging. This cohort setting provides each camp with the opportunity to not only train as a group, but to also learn more about one another along the way. 

Prior to joining the Shivyon Project, BB Camp conducted a meticulous self-assessment examining their camp programming, policy, and culture. BB Camp staff, Abby Evonuk and Sammie Hagen, started meeting bimonthly for coaching calls with Keshet coach Hannah “Hensch” Heschel, to help BB Camp better implement changes and become places of true equality.” The Shivyon Project is aiding BB Camp in building upon our existing practices in supporting our LGBTQ+ community members, strengthening our welcoming and equitable environment, and ensuring that our LGBTQ+ campers, staff, and families feel like they belong at BB Day Camp through our programming, social media, camp structure, and social norms. We want to be where all campers, staff, and families feel they belong. 

Hensch shared the following of their time working with BB Camp: “One piece that should be highlighted is the deeper connections that Abby and Sammie are working on with the PDX LGBTQ+ community.”

Our camps are at their best when they are joyful places where everyone knows they belong. BB Camp is dedicated to ensuring camp is a space that inspires happiness, growth, and fulfillment for all its campers and staff, and they are proud to be working with Keshet to make their goals a reality.

Marisa Reby, Director of Community Care

Yedid Nefesh 

One of our main focuses at BB Camp is Community Care. We have been recognized year after year as a leader in the Jewish camping field for caring for the needs of our campers and staff. We are continuously working to update and adapt to the changing needs of our community, and this year is no exception. We define Community Care as the actions and systems we use to ensure that the mental, emotional, social, and health (MESH) needs of our campers and staff are met.  

BB Camp was selected to join an elite group of North American Jewish camps to receive a grant from Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Marcus Foundation known as Yedid Nefesh. Yedid Nefesh is a multi-year grant that includes support to help us empower our staff through training to provide growth opportunities for each camper that fits their skills and interests. The grant allowed BB Camp to expand our approach, giving each young person and young adult a camp experience tailored to their needs.

Since 2023, Marisa Reby has served as the BB Camp Director of Community Care. Marisa is a trained social worker and a camp parent of two overnight campers. During the year, Marisa manages and plans for the MESH needs of our camper and staff community, and is available to discuss camper’s individualized needs with parents year-round. 

Through Yedid Nefesh, Marisa takes part in a monthly Community of Practice, where mental health professionals connect, share ideas, and discuss best practices of camper/staff MESH strategies. Of her participation in Yedid Nefesh, Marisa shares, “These monthly meetings have been quite productive and are beneficial for connecting with and learning from others in the field of Jewish camping and community care.”