Friday, September 19, 2014 Elul 24, 5774

Finding a Second Home at Jewish Camp

January 8, 2014 By:
Lauren Somers, JE Feature
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Harrison Mask and his mother, Cynthia Davis, are grateful for the gift of Jewish overnight camping.

Cynthia Davis, a single parent who serves as a kitchen team leader in the North Penn School District, has often taken on extra part-time jobs to be able to keep her home and provide for her son, Harrison Mask. Eight years ago, the notion of sending Harrison to Jewish overnight camp seemed like a pipe dream.

But then she found out about Golden Slipper Camp and the needs-based scholarships offered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Having never attended Jewish camp herself, she visited Golden Slipper with her son and her mother to see what it was really like.

“It looked like a brand new camp, with a beautiful lake, huge walking trails, computers and a zipline,” she recalls. “We couldn’t believe what we saw or that Harrison would be able to have this experience.”

Because their school district had a small Jewish population, Harrison didn’t have many Jewish classmates and he knew nobody the first year he went to camp. But Cynthia says he loved it and couldn’t wait to go back the next year. Thanks to the Federation and Golden Slipper scholarships, Harrison was able to return year after year to the place he began to view as his second home.

“I think kids nowadays don’t care about Judaism as much as parents do, so everyone at Golden Slipper tries to get them involved,” notes the North Penn High School junior, who was a member of Beth Tikvah-B’nai Jeshurun in Erdenheim and attended the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College for two years.

This past summer, he enjoyed a whole new experience as a counselor-in-training. Looking ahead, he says, he hopes to be a junior counselor at Golden Slipper next summer and a senior counselor after graduation before heading to college to study engineering. He also envisions visiting Israel as a young adult.

“The farthest I’ve traveled is to Colorado,” he says. “All my Jewish friends who have gone to Israel say it’s amazing. I would love to go someday.”

Despite her limited means, Cynthia recently made a modest contribution to Federation in recognition of the difference camp has made in Harrison’s life.

“I wish I could do more because so many people have contributed so my son can go to camp,” she says. “I’m still juggling bills, and college is coming up fast, but I do what I can. We’re forever grateful.”

Federation’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning provides need-based scholarships for Jewish day and overnight camps, as well as grants to first-and second-time overnight campers through the One Happy Camper program, in conjunction with the Neubauer Family Foundation and the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Last year, the center awarded more than 1,00­0 camp scholarships and grants so that local families could attend Jewish camps.

Make a Difference at Federation’s 2014 Super Sunday Phon-A-Thon

Cynthia Davis and Harrison Mask will be at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy on Sunday, Feb. 9, as Super Sunday volunteers. Please join them! 

Sign up for a morning, afternoon or evening shift during the phon-a-thon and make the calls that make a difference in the lives of people who need our help locally, in Israel and around the world.

The event — the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community’s largest day of fundraising — will be staged from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There will be free child care and children’s programming all day, the phenomenal KYW Kidcast mobile studio during the morning, plus a community fair for all to enjoy. Sign up at jewishphilly.org/supersunday or call 215-832-0630.

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