ATO (Alumni Take Over) By Jesse Sondel

Fellow Alumni and friends,

I can still feel the excitement of KTO when K’far Noar Takes Over Camp. It was one day every session that everybody looked forward to. On paper, it was just the K’far Noar campers acting as counselors for a day.  In reality, it was so much more:

KTO bridged the age groups across the machaneh, it gave counselors a needed break and time to bond, and it was a time where the whole camp came together in different roles than normal.

As we plan ahead for 2021, we know that for a successful summer, camp is going to be different than what we are used to. Challenges that camp leadership are facing include and are not limited to:

  • Safety protocols;
  • Facility upgrades (handwashing  stations, touchless water bottle fillers, sanitizer stations throughout camp, etc.);
  • Infirmary needs
  • Staffing challenges (camp anticipates not being able to hire International staff due to the embassy and visa restrictions);
  • Safe food service.

This fall, the Camp Committee listened to Toni review the team’s ideas for how to make the summer of 2021 a reality, and we realized that the costs for all the necessary components were adding up quickly. While the JCC did run some programming during the summer of 2020, it was significantly reduced. The reduced revenue streams in this downsized environment had severe budget implications across the JCC. Salaries were cut, employees were repurposed to other departments within the JCC, and some staff was furloughed or let go. Interlaken staff was not immune to these realities as they laid off their year-round Assistant Director.

It became obvious to our committee that if we wanted camp to open in 2021, we had to help make it happen. From this realization, my idea of ATO, Alumni Take Over, took shape.  As alumni, we can come together for camp. We can change our normal “roles.”

Being at camp from 1987-2001 personally gave me so so much:

  • A Jewish identity
  • Self-worth and confidence
  • My lifelong best friends
  • My wife!

I know that Camp can bring the same benefits to my children. Join me—not only for the summer of 2021 but for the future of a vibrant and sustainable camp. Let’s take over and help the staff get the resources they need to mold our children and future children into better people.

As I get ready and am optimistic for a healthy and happy 2021, I have been told that our ATO campaign has raised nearly $28,000 (change this to be whatever amount we have raised by the time we get to this point). I want to personally thank all who are currently involved and also stress that there is much more needed. It’s not too late! Help us reach our goal of $40,000.

All the best to you all!

Jesse Sondel, ATO chair