Tisdale, Yellen, Engel

Send a Kid to Tamarack Event Co-Chair, Abbe Sherbin, Sheldon Yellen and Tamarack CEO, Steve Engel at the 2015 Send a Kid to Tamarack Event.

Sheldon Yellen’s Tamarack Transformation

We caught-up with proud Tamarack alum and BELFOR “Undercover Boss,” Sheldon Yellen to talk about what his summers as a camper and counselor meant to him. 

Why is Tamarack special to you?

Tamarack is special because it’s not just another summer camp. There were so many life lessons that I learned at Tamarack that I still carry with me today. It was a transformative process. Here is a little bit of my story…

Forty seven years ago there was a nice but quiet kid who was given a chance to go to camp because of financial aid. Never being away from his mother (who was raising four boys alone on welfare), she was finally able to provide her son a Jewish experience. Upon arriving at the old Jewish Center on Meyer Road in Detroit, this 10-year old boy (who had never been away from home) was nervous, scared and clearly lacking confidence. Upon being loaded unto the bus, not recognizing anyone who could comfort him, tears took over this little boy and he ran off the bus into his mother’s arms.

As the staff and mom tried to comfort this boy, the crying became more and more intense. After 20 minutes, the buses were told to depart (without the crying kid). Then, when all of the bags were loaded on the last staff bus, the crying boy was handed over by his mother to the staff who forcefully put him on the bus. That kid cried all the way to camp and for the next two days and nights. Finally, that kid made a friend – and for the next 17 days had the time of his life! He made friends, participated in many activities, sat at his first Shabbat dinner, learned his first Jewish prayer and song. That kid went on looking forward to his next four years at Tamarack and learned (through great counselors) that giving and comforting others is part of the Jewish culture. At 18 years old, that homesick camper turned confident young man became a counselor at Tamarack so he, too, could help give a few kids a Great Summer.

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Yellen speaking at the 2015 Send a Kid to Tamarack Event.

What did your experience at Tamarack teach you that you still use today?

Today, many years since I’ve been a camper or counselor, I still cherish many of the friendships and values I learned at Tamarack – I’ve kept in touch with many! Tamarack has the ability of bringing out the inner-leader in their campers and the encouragement for everyone to follow their dreams – and not to stop until they achieve them and beyond!

Why is it important to you to support Tamarack?

There is an innate understanding that, if you have been afforded certain opportunities in life, there is a certain responsibility to give back and to “pay it forward”. I was able to experience Tamarack thanks to the generous support from donors, and I am forever grateful. It’s an honor and privilege to give back.

Why should other Tamarack alumni donate to camp?

There’s no greater feeling than knowing that you’ve been able to help the youth, whom will be the next generation of leaders, create their own memories. Incorporating culture, religion, leadership are all values our youth are hungry for and Tamarack is able to provide those values!

What advice would you give campers today?

Remember and cherish every moment. Create memories that will last a lifetime. Pass it on – share the experiences with as many others as possible! Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Ask questions, be curious and learn as much as you can!

You too can invest in this year’s Tamarack campers and our community’s next generation of leaders. Donate to Send a Kid to Tamarack online today.

CLICK HERE to RSVP for the 2016 Send a Kid to Tamarack Event at the Garden Theater in Midtown, Detroit.

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