Camp Case: Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa
By Liz Bar-El, Camp Committee Chair
Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa in California has had a very exciting summer! On June 29, 2011, we welcomed the first session of campers to our new facility near Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. Camp Gilboa is in the process of purchasing the property known as Camp Bluff Lake from the Wildlands Conservancy, an environmental non-profit that has ensured that this pristine, lakefront site remains a youth camp and out of the hands of developers forever. Since the mid-1990's, Gilboa has operated in rental facilities, and despite the difficult conditions has grown annually. With help from JCamp 180 over the last three years, and the guidance of former mentor Eric Phelps and current mentor Julia Riseman, the Camp Committee has built up its structure and fundraising ability and began a journey to find a permanent site to sustain this special program long into the future. Camp Gilboa has been given an amazing opportunity by Wildlands to purchase the site over five years, and to date has raised nearly $900,000 toward our goal of $2.75 million including a maintenance fund for the camp. Gilboa was fortunate to be chosen to participate in the JCamp 180 Chai Match, another boost to our capital campaign. The JCamp 180 also helped Gilboa to secure a $500,000 interest-free loan from the Avi Chai Foundation.
While some might not believe that it could be done, Camp Gilboa was able to make the move into our new home this summer in a record six weeks, and in that time managed to hire all additional staff, bring the pool up to Code, receive Health Department permits and make the kitchen kosher. This year's Visitors Day, held on July 10, made it all worthwhile as parents visited their very happy children in this amazing, beautiful camp in the woods. Twenty seven years after Camp Gilboa closed its last camp, and 17 years after the program reopened, Camp Gilboa has come home at last and will continue with its 75 year camping tradition in California by the shores of Bluff Lake.