Generous Gift Transforms Herzl Camp’s Waterfront for 2019

“What would it take for Herzl to have a 5-star waterfront?” A grandparent’s question leads to the largest single gift in Herzl’s history and a stunning transformation on the shores of Devils Lake.

“This is a game-changer,” Executive Director Gary Kibort said. “Marlys and Elliott Badzin’s vision for Herzl to have a waterfront similar to a high-end camp or resort ensures that many more Jewish kids choose Herzl rather than a non-Jewish camp that may have wonderful amenities, but doesn’t have the ruach and education that roots them in Judaism as adults.”

“With this gift, we will trade one 17-year-old, donated boat for a fleet of shiny, new ski boats and triple the size of the lakefront,” Gary Kibort said. “The impact of this change is just mind-blowing.”

This winter, Herzl begins a transformational investment that will create three distinct activity areas:  skill-building water sports, waterfront fun, and teva (nature) sports. It will quadruple the number of campers using the lake at any one time. Details are found on Page 17.

“As 1960s alumni and current camper grandparents, the Badzins know that a camp filled with joyful young Jews today creates a strong, thriving Jewish community for decades down the road,” Jerry Waldman, Major Gifts Officer, said.

Planning a 5-Star Waterfront

“Like kids in the candy store.” That’s the feeling in the room as Herzl staff dream up our new 5-star waterfront.

“With two past waterfront directors on our year-round staff, we have the experience and ideas to create an amazingly fun, skill-building program,” Drea Lear, Camp Director, said.  “With this transformational gift, we have the resources to build it!”

When campers arrive next June, they will find a waterfront that is tripled in size with three distinct activity areas:  Skill building water sports, waterfront fun, and teva (nature).  Each area adds new activities to Herzl’s program offerings and quadruples the number of campers who can use the waterfront in a day.

“We are so excited to open up this really under-used area of camp to so many more campers.  Different and new activities, more and better equipment, and expanded physical space will give us a great new way to get more kids out into nature each day,” Lear said. “Hopefully, the skills they learn at camp will provide them ways to enjoy the water and nature at home and in their adult lives.”

Skillbuilding Water Sports

“Our goal is always to provide campers a chance to learn something at camp that they can’t learn at home,” Lear said. “Waterskiing and sailing are perfect examples of skills that bring a lifetime of enjoyment.”  A fleet of new ski boats will allow Herzl to offer waterskiing for the first time. A new fleet of catamarans and sailboats will create beginner and advanced sailing options.

“We know how important time spent in nature is for reducing anxiety, increasing creavity, and generally counteracting our over-connected habits,” Lear said. “Learning to ski or sail is a fantastic way to disconnect and learn to love the outdoors!”

Waterfront Fun

“Flying across the water in a tube is the ultimate camp fun! Now, with so many more boats and space, this isn’t a ‘once a session, if you’re lucky’ option at Herzl Camp!,” Lear said. A new Tritoon boat allows a whole cabin on the boat while tubing, which means less waiting and more fun!  It also ensures that the disappointment of a broken-down boat is a thing of the past.

“We’re also expanding our water playground,” Lear said. In addition to our inflatable, which was purchased with benefit proceeds, we are adding lily pads, log rolls, fishing equipment, and other fun activities. This doubles the number of campers who can participate in Waterfront Fun at one time and adds more challenging fitness activities to the play space.

Teva Water Sports

“Our lake is so quiet with so little traffic, it’s the perfect place to appreciate the beauty of nature,” Lear said. “Adding paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, and fishing equipment allows full cabin groups to head out to explore and enjoy this beautiful lake.”

All of this new programming and equipment will be laid out in a new waterfront area with an entrance area that welcomes campers to the fun of lake life. Barbeque areas, sandy play spaces, areas to hang out and enjoy the breeze are all part of the landscape of the 5-star waterfront that will await campers in 2019.

“The ruach and community of camp are paramount in this transformation,” Kibort said. “Camp is about building friendships and trying new things.  This waterfront is being created with those goals top of mind. We are setting the stage for a lifetime of Jewish friendship and outdoor fun.”