LOS ANGELES, CA – (October 19, 2021) – At a critical time to support youth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) and the Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf (FCBW) hosted its annual Family Fun Day on Sunday, October 17th at Camp Bob Waldorf (CBW) in Glendale. More than 300 community leaders, businesses, and families attended the brunch and carnival to support camp programming and learn how Camp Bob Waldorf responded to the crisis and transitioned for the first time in camp history during the Summer of 2021 to Day Camp to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Every year, Camp Bob Waldorf impacts the lives of more than 800 children from low-income families, disadvantaged neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and even those children living in foster care and transitional housing. For many, Camp Bob Waldorf is a camper’s first summer camp experience. The 2021 Family Fun Day raised more than $225,000 for the Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf, ensuring that camp will continue to serve youth in need from across Los Angeles.
This year, JBBBSLA CEO Cari Uslan honored the camp’s unsung heroes who stepped up throughout the pandemic to take on challenges and ensure campers had a safe and meaningful experience.
“Camp staff underwent exhaustive logistical feats to ensure campers and their families were safe from COVID-19 and nursing staff worked above and beyond to ensure campers’ safety,” Uslan said. “Today we would like to recognize CBW Associate Director Rose Savage Levenson, Nurse Jessica Parel and camper-turned-counselor Matthew Vasquez, who all make a profound impact on the camp and each child.”
Matthew Vasquez, a former camper and counselor at Camp Bob Waldorf, shared a heartfelt testimonial about the power of camp as he told of his personal transformation from troubled teen, struggling with addiction to college student at Cal State Fullerton, where he is an Arnold S. Nelson Scholar.
“Camp Bob Waldorf is one of the places that helped me the most, and I am proud to call it my second home…As a teen camper, camp opened my eyes to a whole new world, and it helped me overcome those obstacles I was dealing with back then. Camp helped me abolish my ignorance by offering a welcoming environment where I learned more about others and myself. With the help of my counselors, I could honestly say that I became more open and more empathetic towards others…Camp gave me and many others a second chance at life.”
During brunch, Uslan encouraged attendees to help transform the camp’s currently underutilized volleyball court into a weather-resistant multi-sport court for campers next summer. Uslan said, “Sports at camp are about a lot more than just the game. Our sports activities build self-confidence, healthy bodies, and healthy minds. The opportunity to offer tetherball, volleyball, pickleball, and more means that more kids will be able to find an activity that they feel good about.”
Sandy Sigal, former camper, current JBBBSLA Board Member, and Vice Chair of the Foundation for Camp Bob Waldorf, spoke about the transformative impact of camp. “For the past 80 years, Camp Bob Waldorf has been giving kids from across Los Angeles an experience that they can’t have anywhere else,” Sigal said. “In fact, I was a camper here because I struggled after my parents divorced. This camp changed me. It helped me express my feelings and taught me leadership skills. This camp helps kids reach their full potential and I want to thank you all for your support.”
Family Fun Day featured brunch in the morning and attendees had the opportunity to attend a camp carnival, featuring food trucks, a petting zoo, balloon animals, rock climbing wall, DJ, carnival games, face painting, photo booths, arts & crafts, and more, The leadership and staff at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of LA make Camp Bob Waldorf a success each summer. To learn more about Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, please visit jbbbsla.org.
Many Los Angeles-area elected officials and their staff attended Family Fun Day to learn firsthand about the impact Camp Bob Waldorf has on the lives of their constituents. Staff from the offices of County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Assemblymembers Isaac Bryan (AD-54) and Laura Friedman (AD-43), and State Senator Anthony Portantino joined the event.