Project Description

Irving Potter

Camper since 1955, B’nai Brith Men’s Camp Association Board President since 2006

What is your family’s history with BB Camp?
When my dad, Eddie Potter, was seven, Mrs. Isaac Sweet, who started the camp, suggested that him and his two brothers should go to camp. Their mom couldn’t afford it and was told she could pay in in monthly installments. So what did they do? They worked extra shifts on their paper routes and saved 75 cents a month so all three of them could go to camp! They went to camp for many summers. My dad always told that story at Men’s Camp when he made his contribution, his catch was, “I think they gave me a deal, so I have been trying the rest of my life to repay that debt.” My dad went to Men’s Camp for sixty two years, I got to join him for almost 30 years of those. There was a point in time where we had three generations at Men’s Camp, which happened again this last summer when great nephews were both Men’s Camp counselors. All four of my grandchildren are now fourth-generation campers!”

What makes BB Camp special?
BB camp is unique. It is a community camp and, unlike most American Jewish camps, is unaffiliated with any Jewish movements. We have one of the highest percentages of kids who come from interfaith families. It is an all immersive Jewish experience, you are living it instead of it being imposed upon you. Everything they do is trying to infuse the Jewish concept and Jewish feeling but mainly making kids feel comfortable being Jewish.

How has BB Camp impacted your life?
I am still close friends with my South-One cabin mates. Our wives are friends and our kids all became friends. That extended group is my social circle to this day. Most of my friends are friends I met at BB Camp, or they are friends I made at Men’s Camp. Camp is the only thing I have found that makes a lasting difference on kids. I know camp works. I know it changes lives. I have seen it change lives. Campers are way more likely to practice Judaism, they will give to charity, be involved with Federation or other community activities. Of all the various things that kids do the empirical evidence is camp works. If I am going to spend my valuable volunteer time on something, I want to spend it on something that has an impact and I know Camp does.