Last summer, given COVID’s continued presence and restrictions, campers were especially happy to be at camp. (photo from Camp Hatikvah)
Prior to 2020, Camp Hatikvah was experiencing unparalleled success. With enrolment maximized, the organization was in the position to focus not only on capital and program development but also on long-term financial planning. According to Liza Rozen-Delman, the camp’s executive director, Hatikvah’s future had never looked brighter. “It was a period of great excitement for us,” she said. “We honestly thought that nothing could get in the way of our growth and success.”
The pandemic, however, changed everything. “The impact of COVID was immediate and devastating,” Rozen-Delman said. “We went from being on top of the world to worrying about our very survival.”
Luckily for Hatikvah, donors immediately stepped in to cover the camp’s mounting financial losses. “People knew we were in trouble and they rallied around us,” said Rozen-Delman, with great emotion and gratitude. “Not only did they cover our operational expenses entirely in 2020, they made it possible for us to open in 2021 by funding all of the camp’s COVID-related expenses, like testing, site upgrades and more.”
Rozen-Delman went on to share how incredible it was to welcome campers back to camp last summer. While capacity had to be dramatically reduced to adhere to government group-size limits, close to 400 children participated in Hatikvah’s program in 2021.
“We rearranged our session lengths to make sure that every single Jewish child wishing to attend our camp was able to do so,” explained Rozen-Delman. “While this meant that each camper was at camp for a little less time than is typical, everyone was just so grateful to be there.”
“Our campers are always happy to be at camp but last summer, they were elated,” added Eden Gutterman, the camp’s associate director. “They needed to socialize, to be outdoors and to be away from technology and it was just so beautiful to watch them revel in camp and each other.”
Gutterman shared her favourite memory from last summer. “One Shabbat, we asked all of the campers who had their bar and bat mitzvah’s over Zoom to stand in the middle of a circle made up of the rest of the campers and counselors. We then did the hora around them as a tribute to their milestone and accomplishment. None of these campers got to celebrate their simchah in person so it was incredibly touching to see them surrounded and celebrated by their friends. It is something we – and they – will never forget.”
Camp Hatikvah is now busy preparing for summer 2022.
“We recognize that COVID will likely not be over by summer,” acknowledged Rozen-Delman. “And, while we wish it wasn’t the case, we feel well-prepared to deal with anything.”
Rozen-Delman shared that the Gutman family and Rockdoc Consulting Inc. have provided the funding for the camp to build a new infirmary in time for this summer.
“Given the realities of the ongoing pandemic, this gift couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Rozen-Delman. “Our new infirmary has been designed with COVID and any future infectious disease in mind and will have recovery rooms that can be used as properly ventilated isolation space if necessary. Its functional space has also been thoughtfully designed to allow us to meet and exceed current best practices in camper care. It is a gift our camp so desperately needed and we couldn’t be more grateful to Sam and Belinda and Gloria and their families for their generosity.”
Joanna Wasel, Camp Hatikvah’s board president, commented that, while she wished the world hadn’t had to experience this pandemic at all, she believes that the camp will ultimately be stronger because of it.
“We are entering 2022 with a renewed sense of purpose,” said Wasel. “Our community supported us through this challenging time because they believe in our mandate to help raise the next generation of strong, confident and resilient Jewish leaders. Their faith means everything to us and we are determined to make them proud.”
– Courtesy Camp Hatikvah