On Sept. 28 more than 85 people converged on B’nai B’rith Camp near Lincoln City, giggling and eager to see old friends, hopeful to make new ones and nervous about what their time at camp would hold. But these were no ordinary summer campers. They were adult Jewish women and they were at camp for ReJewvenation, a Jewish women’s weekend retreat that has been held at BB Camp annually since 2005.
The idea for ReJewvenation came from former campers Amy Blauer, Becky Ewer and Jordana Levenick. “We were old camp friends. We basically created the event to get back to camp and have some good girl time,” says Levenick.
And good girl time there is. The weekend schedule at ReJewvenation offers activities such as canoeing on the lake, arts and crafts, cooking classes and yoga. The swimming pool fills its traditional role but one cabin becomes a bar. There are spa services, after-dinner games, camp songs, Saturday morning services and lots of mah jongg.
Robyn Spring, event coordinator and ReJewvenation attendee for three years, calls the event a “friendraiser.”
“The women become closer and there’s always a real sense of community here,” says Spring.
In addition to raising friends, ReJewvenation has in the last couple of years evolved to raise funds as well. There is a silent auction to raise money for camper scholarships and a big pitch in the dining hall on Saturday night.
“The participants wanted to give back to camp, and we are happy that BB Camp took the event in that direction,” says cofounder Ewer. “Camp is so important in the formation of children’s Jewish identity.”
This year, the event raised more than $10,000 for camp – the most it’s ever raised.
On Sunday morning after breakfast, the women cross arms to form a friendship circle in the dining hall and sway together as they sing Shalom Chaverim. Pictures are taken, phone numbers are exchanged, and the women head back home to their jobs, husbands and children, looking forward to ReJewvenation next year.
“I can’t believe we have to wait a whole year to do this again,” one attendee said.
The event is scheduled for Oct. 4-6, 2013.
Adina Eden is an English teacher and Jewish summer camp enthusiast. She lives in SE Portland with her husband and her two cats.