The Alumni Spotlight gives us the opportunity to catch up with a Tamarack alum, hear about where they are now, and learn how Tamarack Camps shaped them. We are thrilled to check in with Beth Sonne. Read her story below!
When did you attend Tamarack Camps? What villages or programs were you part of?
Due to the camper subsidy program managed by Jeannette Tilchin, I was lucky enough to attend Tamarack for both Specialty Drama and Agree Outpost. We had done several overnights at Tamarack through the JCC Day Camp and my dream was to spend 4 weeks away at camp. I’ll never forget the day my mom got the call that my brother and I would be able to attend. I was so excited to know I would be spending my summer at the most beautiful place I had ever seen.
What lessons did you learn from camp?
I learned a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of my Judaism through nature, art, music, and community. The biggest lesson I learned was that no matter who you are, there is a place for you at camp.
What are you up to now personally and/or professionally?
Working with kids and as an outdoor educator at camp all those years, I knew someday I would want to be a teacher in a traditional classroom. Now, I teach 2nd grade and run the Drama Department at our school. This summer I was lucky enough to even work at a camp here in California for the summer. You can take the girl out of camp, but you can’t take the camp out of the girl.
How did camp impact how you live your life today?
I know many people say this, but, I am who I am today in large part due to camp. Specialty Drama set me on a path to a profession in live theatre where I was a stage manager in NYC, Detroit, Orange County, and did several tours through the U.S. When my grandmother needed care, I came home to MI and began working for Tamarack full time running the Family Camp program during the year and Agree Outpost during the summer. Living so connected to nature for all those years, combined with the people I have encountered at camp along the way, have truly shaped the person I am and the values I hold dear today.
Why is Tamarack Camps “The Greatest Place on Earth?”
Camp makes everyone feel welcome, loved, and part of something bigger than themselves.
Was there a staff member that made a lasting impact on you and why?
Too many to even mention but Rob Cantor, my Specialty counselor, taught us to love ourselves for who we are, even if that means being different from everyone else. Minda Tilchin and Joan Lipsitz were my strong, confident “she-roes” who modeled amazing leadership skills. Marvin Berman taught me so much about being a caring and kind camp professional.
Favorite camp memory:
After 27 years, too hard to pick a favorite, but I narrowed it down to two… My first summer, Shabbat in Sheruth village with an amazing staff, all cleaned up with Farrah Fawcett flipped back bangs and white overalls. And of course, jumping in a freezing Kabenung after being on the cookie sheet in Erma, looking at the moon over the lake and the loons calling.
Favorite camp meal:
Shabbat dinner potato knish at Butzel made by Sheila.
A 10-day hiking trip with Mark Cantor along the Sand River, that turned into a crazy, wet, and eventful bushwhacking adventure.
Favorite program/theme day:
Purim in July at Agree.
Dream Tamarack reunion idea:
A week at Agree of course… with good friends and no black flies!