[by Holly Hinson, Freelance Writer]
In recognition of the importance Jewish overnight camping and Israel experiences are to helping young people develop strong Jewish identities, the Jewish Federation of Louisville invests in the future of the Jewish community by awarding scholarships to make these experiences more affordable for local Jewish families. This year, the organization has awarded $30,000 to 27 children.
This year, Lexie Beauchamp received the Laura K. Cohen Camp Scholarship and Maggie Rosen received the Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship. In addition, the Miriam and Dennis Fine Beber Camp Memorial Scholarship, the Frankenthal Family Camp Ramah Scholarship, several One Happy Camper Scholarships and a number of unnamed scholarships were awarded this summer.
Lexie Beauchamp – Cohen Camp Scholarship.
Lexie Beauchamp, 15, is this year’s recipient of the Laura K. Cohen Camp Scholarship. A rising sophomore at Oldham County High School, Lexie is active in her school on debate team and has been in chorus. She has also been a Sunday school volunteer at the Jewish Community Center.
She said she has attended camp before and can’t wait to return. Thanks to the Cohen scholarship, she will be attending the Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, IN, in June.
“Camp means everything to me – it’s like my second home,” Lexie said. “When I first went, I was nervous, being away from home, but I completely fell in love with it. Those are the best people I’ve ever met. It’s a way to establish true friendships – the kind I believe will be life-long.”
At camp, Lexie had the opportunity to get assistance in studying and preparing for bat mitzvah and deepening her understanding of her Jewish identity and faith. “I like that the camp is so welcoming to everyone. I was somewhat unfamiliar with Judaism, but everyone made me feel comfortable. I really feel like I am learning so much more about my Jewish identity,” said the teen.
Opportunities for community service are also a big part of the camp experience. “I like that the camp is part educational and part service-oriented,” said Lexie. At last year’s camp, Lexie’s cabin helped to build a garden for victims of drug abuse and violence. “It was great. We had vegetables and flowers and benches. We dedicated it to them as a symbol of hope,” the teen said. “We are learning the true meaning of ‘tikkun olam’ [healing the world].”
Another activity Lexie helped with was cleaning up a baseball field for underprivileged children. “We had the whole camp participate,” she said. “It was 11 buses of people. When we were done with everything, we hung a sign on doorpost for them, reading, ‘Mazel Tov’ – to wish them good luck.”
Camp also gave Lexie the opportunity to try new things – including archery. “I had never done it, but I found I was really good at it, so now I am on the archery team at school,” she said. The camp also offers a taste of the arts with the camp musical production in which all campers participate in some way.
But Lexie said that her absolute favorite part of camp is the Friday night song sessions around the campfire. “The Rabbi tells stories, and we sing songs and dance all night – that is so fun.”
Lexie’s father is a retired chef, and the family – including dad, Beau; mom, Amy; and brothers, Saul and Roman – loves to cook together, trying a new recipe every Friday night for Shabbat.
The family attends the Temple.
The late Laura K. Cohen was a big believer in summer camp. In fact, she so treasured her time spent at a Zionist youth camp as a child that when she passed away, her friends and family chose to remember her by creating a scholarship in her name. The Laura K. Cohen Camp Scholarship is awarded to a teen who attends a Jewish summer camp that observes Kosher dietary laws, are Zionistic in approach (provide an Israeli element in orientation and/or programming), and observe Shabbat.
The Miriam and Dennis Fine Beber Camp Memorial Scholarship was established in Miriam’s name when she passed away in 2004. At the time, her husband, Dennis, and their children, Molly, Max and Meredith, chose to memorialize her by ensuring others the opportunity to enjoy the Jewish camping experience that had been so much a part of her life and theirs. And when Dennis passed away in 2011, the fund was renamed to honor his memory as well. Since the Fine children had attended the camp in Wisconsin over the years, the endowment was created to provide scholarships to Beber Camp.
Citing their family’s desire to make a Jewish camping experience accessible for all youngsters in our community, Kim and Stuart Frankenthal endowed the Frankenthal Family Camp Ramah Scholarship Fund with the Jewish Foundation of Louisville. The Frankenthal Fund provides need-based scholarships for youngsters from the Louisville area at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.