SUDBURY — For Emma Csillag, summer camp isn’t just about swimming and kayaking. It’s about giving back.
That’s why she joined more than 100 Camp Solelim campers and staff on July 15 as they marched through the streets of Sudbury, Ont., to raise awareness for the city’s food bank.
“Tikkun olam is a Jewish value. It means healing the world,” Csillag said at the Sudbury Food Bank Walkathon. “These are core values of our religion. It’s nice to see we can reach out to people.”
While the camp has raised awareness about issues around the world, Csillag, a head staff member, wanted campers to make a difference locally.
“They can see the change they’re making,” she said.
Located about a four-hour-drive from Toronto within the boundaries of Greater Sudbury, Camp Solelim is a six-week leadership camp for 14- and 15 year-olds. It was founded in the 1960s and has stayed in the community ever since.
“Our camp is here. It’s been here since [the 1960s]. It’d be really nice to work locally,” Csillag said.
The head staffer has wanted to work with the food bank for years now, especially since the summer months are often the hardest for food banks. While residents are used to holiday can and packaged food drives, they often get distracted in the summer.
For Sophie Vaisman, a 14-year-old camper, the cause is an important one.
“It’s good to raise awareness,” she said. “[There are] so many people who are hungry.”
While the campers didn’t raise funds and had little food to bring from camp, they carried signs with startling statistics, such as the fact that 15 per cent of food banks run out of food during the year.
“A lot of people will see us. Hopefully there’s a lot more done [about this],” Vaisman said.
Jenna Goldberg, a second-year Solelim staffer, said she likes the idea of helping a local charity.
“We like to encourage tikkun olam, the idea of giving back to the community. In the past, we’ve done bigger things, like a walk for Darfur, but we felt like doing something [local].”
She added that staff thought “it would benefit the kids. For them to be a part of this, it encourages them to do the same back home.”
Rather than helping an organization on the other side of the world, campers can see the community they’re supporting, Goldberg said. “We’re giving money to huge organizations, but we don’t see where the money goes.”
Dan Xilon, the food bank’s administrator, was impressed by the campers.
“Apparently, the camp wants to raise awareness about hunger issues. They know the food bank is often empty in the summer,” he said.
“I think it’s special. [The walkathon] was totally generated by them. They came along and decided [to help]. I think it bodes well for the young people.”