When Jordana Etkin was seven years old, she remembers stepping off the boat in Lake of the Woods, Ontario and attending B’nai Brith Camp (BB Camp) as a camper for the rst time. She rst attended BB Camp through the Sunshine Fund more than 20 years ago. Etkin, says camp felt like an "escape" back then and quickly became a lifelong happy place that helped make her who she is today.

Growing up there, Etkin says she learned so much about who she was and her skills, strengths and abilities.“BB Camp means a lot to me and it gave me so much in return that I carry in my life today,” she says. At camp, she pushed her boundaries and went out of her comfort zone — and the rewards have been priceless. “At an early age at camp, you build skills, learn how to be a leader and deal with different personality types and discover how to meet challenges with positivity and resolve.”

Now a teacher in the Seven Oaks School Division, Etkin says camp was "a catalyst that shaped my life."

Camp challenged her to grow and let her prove what she was capable of in terms of leadership, problem-solving and making life-long friends that she is still close with today.

"I learned who I was at camp and it helped shape my identity," she says.

"I learned a sense of adventure and fearlessness. I learned about who I was and how to express myself, whether it was creatively, through sport or through song."

One summer, on a four-week canoe trip with a group of 15-year-olds, she learned what she was truly made of – grit and determination. She found out that when the going got tough – she was strong and could brave the portaging, and heavy camp gear on her back. It was a lesson that stayed with her throughout her life.

“Summer camp shaped who I am today, it taught me life lessons and what it truly feels like to be a part of a community.”

As a teacher, Etkin says she thinks all children should have the opportunity to attend camp and learn the important life lessons and transformative experiences that occur when you live with peers, in the outdoors and away from home.

"I want these students to have the same opportunities I did, and I want to instill these values and help shape their lives in a positive way. The camp experience is important for children to experience, it helps build their identity, give them a sense of community and make some discoveries of their own."