by Maxine Fischbein
(AJNews) – Camp BB-Riback will celebrate 66 years serving the youth of Alberta and Saskatchewan at a camp reunion taking place on the shores of Pine Lake June 24 – 26.
The festivities are open to camp alumni and friends and will feature fun activities for people of all ages.
Flexibility is the name of the game, says camp board member and reunion committee volunteer Miriam Staav who spent summers at the camp between 1996 and 2007 as a camper and then Machon counsellor, CIT (counsellor-in-training) staff and CIT coordinator.
“The hope is to have a weekend when we can gather people together on camp after an odd two years when camp wasn’t able to operate as it had for 63 years before,” said Staav. “We will celebrate just being able to do that and what we hope camp will be like going forward.”
Individuals and families can choose to stay on or off camp and to participate for the entire weekend or on presentation day, Sunday, June 26.
The event is guaranteed to be a multigenerational homecoming with the camp having now served three generations of Jewish campers.
A highlight of the reunion weekend will be the opportunity for individuals, families and groups to participate in the camp rotations while getting a bird’s eye view of improvements to the camp, including cabin refurbishments.
Camp Director Stacy Shaikin, the board of directors, volunteers, alumni and friends of the camp are partnering to upgrade 17 cabins over the next three years at an estimated cost of $20,000 per cabin. Plans include new rooves, siding, drywall, doors, windows, flooring and bunks.
The template is the Benjamin Cabin which was fully redone in 2019 thanks to the generosity of Calgarian Ronnie Ploit and Edmontonian Steve Shafir. The work was done at a discount by The Exteriors Group, owned by camp alum Adam Girvitz, of Calgary.
“We got a lot of positive feedback from parents who got to see it last summer while dropping off their kids for LTC (Leadership Training Conference) last year,” Shaikin told AJNews.
“It’s one of the coolest cabins to be in because of the metal roof,” he added.
Individuals, families and groups donating to the cabin project can leverage their contributions thanks to a generous matching grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation which will provide $1 for every $2 raised by the camp to a total of $20,500 USD, said Shaikin who added that the camp will also receive an additional bonus from the foundation if they achieve their fundraising goal.
While the cause is an important one, the weekend is definitely not all work and no play!
“We’re hoping to have live music on Saturday night and there are going to be Shabbat services, sing-songs, and a campfire,” promises Shaikin, adding that participants can busy themselves with their favourite camp activities or “just hang around camp and do their own thing.”
The price is right at just $200 per adult for the weekend ($72 for each kid between the ages of three and 18; children and toddlers free). Families of four get a break at $500 for the entire weekend. One-day adult admission is only $54.
“The weekend is a chance for people to get to camp and either experience it the way they remember it when they were campers or staff or to experience it for the first time if they’ve never been,” says Miriam Staav. “I find it particularly exciting that there will be people there who haven’t had a chance to participate in camp activities before.”
Organizers are aiming to have most – if not all – camp rotations up and running for the reunion weekend as well as classic camp activities that will prompt more than a little nostalgia for camp alumni. Staav’s personal list includes “eating in the Hadar, bonfires at night, and all those things that former campers and staff look back on with fondness.”
Staav says she has received positive feedback from camp alumni and first-timers who are excited at the idea of spending time at the camp, having endured two years of disruption and isolation due to COVID.
She and her husband – camp alum and former staffer Josh Staav – look forward to introducing their one-year-old son to the wonders of Camp BB-Riback during the reunion weekend and encourage other parents with young families to join them.
In the blink of an eye, those kids will be swapping their onesies for blue and white sweaters and hopping on the bus for their first summer at Camp BB!
To register for the camp reunion, go to https://campbb.campbrainregistration.com/
Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Jewish News.