Keeping It All in the Family
The Roberta and Rick London family moved to the Milwaukee area in 1984 when their two children were in 4th and 5th grades. Their youngest child, Zach, was their first connection to Camp Interlaken, the JCC’s overnight camp in Eagle River, WI. He took a short trip to camp with Rainbow Day Camp to try it out and liked it so much he ended up spending 3 years as a camper, one as an Ozo (staff-in-training), and 4 as a counselor. Rick, a family physician, was also recruited to be the camp doctor for three summers while Zach attended camp. Sari, who was never an official camper at Interlaken, was able to experience camp with her parents as a part of the doctor’s family during that time.
The London Family’s time at camp carried over as their family grew. Looking to create a close-knit extended family as Sari and Zach both married and started families of their own, Roberta and Rick invited them all to gather at their home near Lake Michigan for a week in August for “Camp London”. This tradition began when their first grandchildren, Sari’s son, Avi, and Zach’s daughter, Scarlett, were just infants.
The summer Avi and Scarlett were 8 years old, and their parents were starting to consider overnight camp options, the whole extended family decided to try Camp Interlaken Family Camp as a part of their Camp London experience. Zach was excited to share his camp not only with his daughter, but also with his wife, Lauren, and his 5 year old son, Malcolm. Sari’s husband, Brian Wolkenberg, had never attended summer camp, and was unsure what to expect as they packed up their family of five which also included 6 year old twins, Micah and Shaina. It was clear by the end of the week that Avi and Scarlett would be campers the following summer.
Fast forward to today and all 5 grandchildren are now devoted Interlaken campers and the family just completed their 6th year at Family Camp. Roberta loves how Family Camp has given their whole family not only the opportunity to connect with camp each summer, but more importantly, the opportunity to connect with each other. “As a grandparent, there is something so heartwarming about sharing similar experiences generation to generation. There are few places you can go, or vacations you can take with 11 people who vary in age by 60 years, where we all can have our own good time, individually as we challenge ourselves with new activities, and together, as we share experiences that create a common bond for years to come. ”
For Sari the most special aspect of Family Camp is getting a taste of what the Interlaken experience is like for her kids. “I get the chance to meet some of their counselors each year and hear stories from the camp session that wouldn’t get told were we not ‘back at camp.’ It makes me feel that I am a part of the Interlaken family, despite having never been an Interlaken camper in my youth.”
Having children who love camp as much as he did allows Zach the opportunity to reflect on why the camp has so many second generation campers. “One of the most powerful ways that Interlaken connects campers to Judaism is by instilling a genuine love and respect for tradition. Camp probably has thousands of traditions, some of which are rooted in Judaism, and some of which are unique to Interlaken. The flexibility to react to the present and make new traditions is what makes camp so vibrant. Camp creates a community that lasts a lifetime.”
Roberta and Rick could not be more pleased with their Family Camp experience at Camp Interlaken. “Because our grandchildren live in two different states, the month they spend as campers together at Interlaken, and the week we share at Family Camp, has given them a shared bond that will be with them their entire life.”
To learn how your family can spend a week at Camp Interlaken, contact Camping Services Coordinator Beth Alling at balling@ jccmilwaukee.org or 414-967-8240.