The Alumni Spotlight gives us the opportunity to catch up with a Tamarack alum, hear about their life now, and learn how Tamarack Camps has shaped them. Maddi Ishbia shares her love for camp and how it led to her co-chair this year’s Send a Kid to Tamarack annual event!
Tell us your Tamarack story:
Tamarack has always been an integral part of my life. I started as a (very homesick) mini Shiffman camper in 2004. If it weren’t for Debbie Landau, who used to let me call the Buddy Tags with her at general swim, I am not sure I would be even answering these questions right now. My cousins and family friends were at camp, which pushed me to go back that second summer, where I made LIFELONG friends. I was challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone, which ultimately led me to be a counselor myself so I could give campers the same rewarding experiences I had. This included conquering homesickness, trying activities they otherwise would not have tried, or making friends outside their crew. It wasn’t until I got older that I really learned that Tamarack was our community’s camp and all the work being done to give back. I had always known about Send A Kid to Tamarack – I had raised money for my mitzvah project, however, I never realized the importance of camp to the community beyond campers and staff until I got involved as an alum. I am thrilled and honored to have grown up in such an amazing program as a child and teen, and to now further my involvement as an adult in the community.
What did you learn at camp that you have utilized through your adult life?
As someone who has struggled with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) going back longer than I can remember, the biggest tool camp gave me was pushing past my comfort zones. Today, when I find myself worried and/or anxious about something on the horizon, more often than not, I think back to a camp experience whether it was preparing for the Western Trip, getting up for the first time on water skis, my first time going to camp for both sessions, or simply not being able to talk to my parents for the whole summer. I think about how I conquered those experiences and the tools I used then, which so often get me through what I am dealing with in my day-to-day adult life.
Why is Tamarack Camps the Greatest Place on Earth?
ABC’s of why Tamarack is the GPOE:
Accommodating, Beneficial, Connection, Development, Digital Detox, Exploration, Friendships, Growth, Happiness, Inspiring, Judaism, Kibbud, Life skills, Memories, Nature, Outdoors, Physical activity, Quintessential part of life, Relationship building, Stress-free, Traditions, Undeniably the best experience you can give a kid, Valuable skills, Worthwhile, Xciting Activities, Your home away from home, Zeal.
How did you get involved in Tamarack lay leadership and planning the Send a Kid to Tamarack annual event?
When I graduated from Indiana University in 2018 and moved back to Detroit, I knew that it was important for me to be involved in and give back to the Detroit Jewish community after it had given me so much growing up. It was a no-brainer that Tamarack Camps should be part of that. One small meeting turned into more and more leadership, and hopefully many more leadership opportunities in the future. It is easy to be so dedicated and involved in something when you are so passionate about the mission and truly care about what you are talking about and giving back to.
Tell us about the event…
This year’s event is virtual which many people would see as a negative but is actually a great opportunity because it means there is no limit on who can watch or attend to learn about the Send a Kid to Tamarack mission. Without giving too much away, there are many surprises depending on your giving level, and as you watch and learn through the entirety of the program. Recognizing Helayne Shaw is really an honor for us because of everything she has done for camp and this community. I am so excited to be part of this amazing event and all that it stands for: raising support to send more kids to camp!
What are you most excited about for the event?
Cheesy – but everything. I love planning events because I love the final moments where all of the work comes together!
Favorite camp memory:
My favorite camp memory is when my brother won Color War and then Counselor of the Year. There was nothing that made me prouder than watching my sibling’s leadership and a group of campers flock towards his skills and how enthusiastic he was. Getting to watch him flourish and be his own person at camp years after I did was such an exciting moment for me. I love getting to tell younger campers that Ryan Ishbia is my brother and seeing their face light up that he was their counselor or color war captain and seeing the impact he made in their lives now – especially now that I am so removed from the day-to-day summers of camp.
Favorite camp meal: WACKY MAC – not only is it my favorite camp meal, but to this day I seek it out in grocery stores and eat it at camp too.
Favorite trip/ theme day: Staffing in Fishman was awesome because of all of the theme days – but I have to go with Hippie Day. I emulate Hippie Day in my daily life. My friends and family say I was born in the wrong decade (LOL).
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