BB Camp surfs into water sports specialty track this summer

PHOTO: Situated on Devil’s Lake and less than 2 miles from the Oregon coast, B’nai B’rith Camp is ideally suited to launch a BB Surfs water sports specialty camp this summer


Every summer B’nai B’rith Camp brings more than 600 overnight campers to enjoy programs near the Pacific Ocean. As BB Camp continues to grow, it regularly creates new ways to use this stunning coastal location and expand its offerings.

“We are always pursuing innovation at BB Camp, enabling us to provide even more youth with impactful experiences” says Michelle Koplan, BB Camp executive director.

When the Foundation for Jewish Camp announced The Competitive Edge program, funded by the Gottesman Fund, Michelle knew it was exactly the opportunity BB Camp was searching for. “With so many children seeking specialized activities, it is important that we start providing specialization as an option at BB Camp,” she says.

The Competitive Edge program is based on the success of the Jewish specialty camp programs that FJC has helped to establish and seeks to expand that model to traditional Jewish camps. The goal is to help Jewish overnight camps increase their competitiveness.

When applications for The Competitive Edge opened, BB Camp staff and lay leadership examined a wide array of specialty programs to offer, but it quickly became clear which avenue to pursue.

“Our access to both Devil’s Lake and the Pacific Ocean puts us in a unique position to create an intensive water-sports program” says Ben Charlton, BB Camp director of program development. With aquatic sports frequently among BB Camp’s most beloved activities, increasing the offerings combined with a higher level of instruction was a sure winner.

FJC awarded the Competitive Edge Grant to BB Camp just before the 2018 summer, and the journey to launch “BB Surfs” in 2019 became a reality.

BB Surfs will offer campers a new opportunity for growth and exploration within the immersive Jewish community at BB Camp. BB Camp has contracted Cascadia SUP to provide surf, stand-up paddleboard and wakeboard instruction. Instruction will be tailored to each camper, so campers do not need prior experience. Each individual will learn skills to facilitate growth. The program will use both Devil’s Lake and the Pacific Ocean as experiential classrooms for learning and self-discovery.

Under BB’s integrated curriculum, campers will participate in specialized activity and instruction around surfing while enjoying the core elements of a summer at BB Camp. Campers will spend portions of each day participating in traditional camp activities and will take part in the camp’s offsite unit rafting trip and other special camp programming. Over the course of the three-week session, campers will spend half of their day at the beach or on the lake learning and advancing their skills. For the other half of the day, campers will be with their cabinmates participating in traditional camp programming.

“It is critical to us that every camper is integrated into our inclusive Jewish community at BB Camp,” says Ben of BB Surfs’ balanced schedule. “We were very intentional in designing a program that promoted this value.”

The primary values for the seventh- and eighth-grade program at BB Camp are shalom (peace) and ometz lev (courage). Both values will be immersed deeply into the BB Surfs curriculum, encouraging campers to grow outside of their comfort zone and finding wholeness on the water. Tikkun olam (repairing the world) will also be a focus of the BB Surfs curriculum, with a beach cleanup project and education around water conservation and cleanliness.

Funding from FJC’s Competitive Edge program will also afford BB Camp the opportunity to build a new structure to house a new amphitheater and a substantial staging and storage area for BB Surfs. Relocation of the existing amphitheater structure will make about 150 feet of previously inaccessible lakefront available for use. In addition, funds will go to develop a new small boat launch facility.

BB Surfs will launch this summer at BB Camp, starting June 25, 2019. Find out more at

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