2019 Impact Report

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your partnership in making Tawonga so much more than a summer camp. Together, we have built a community that lifts us up, celebrates diversity, connects us to Judaism and feels like home. In 2019, we served over 5,000 people – the highest number in Tawonga’s history.

This report highlights the many accomplishments of 2019, including graduating our second cohort of Tawonga B’nai Mitzvah students, offering more year-round programming and providing new opportunities for teens to learn life skills, for young adults to sustain the magic of Tawonga and for families with young children to gather in community.

Our commitment to full inclusion accelerated in 2019. We offered an all-gender cabin pilot for campers who identify as non-binary, centered Jews of color with at-camp affinity spaces and new down the mountain programming and launched construction projects to make our Tuolumne County property more accessible to people with disabilities. A home for everyone is how we see Tawonga.

Whether you’re an alum, send your child to Camp, participate in programs Down the Mountain, give to Tawonga – or all of the above – we hope you’ll take stock in the milestones we reached together in 2019.

We are grateful to each of you who supported Tawonga last year. Your generosity makes the gift of Camp possible. Enjoy the read!


Jamie Simon
Executive Director


Becca Meyer
Camp Director


Jeff Zlot
President, Tawonga Board of Directors

Tawonga offers a place of acceptance, support and transformation for campers, staff and families alike. At Camp, Tawongans grow into their best selves, connect with nature and develop pride in their Jewish identities, all within a warm and welcoming community. The memories and lessons of Camp are lifelong.

A bit of that magic was captured this past year in our Camper Satisfaction Index Survey, a survey filled out by Camp families and facilitated by the Foundation for Jewish Camp:

  • Over 90% of Camp families indicated that their child found a sense of home, family and community from their session at Tawonga.
  • 87% of families indicated that building Jewish identity and reinforcing Jewish values are a key strength of Tawonga.
  • 97% of Camp parents are likely or extremely likely to recommend Camp Tawonga to family and/or friends.

Read more highlights from the survey and our stellar results here.


Creating a sense of belonging for every camper is at the heart of our mission. In 2019, Tawonga piloted an all-gender cabin option for campers who identify as non-binary. Results were overwhelmingly positive and our commitment to full inclusion caught the attention of the New York Times. Read the NYT feature here.



“We have a very strong Jewish identity at home. This camp did the impossible: It enhanced our son’s Jewish identity and pride in ways I didn’t think he needed to improve.”Tawonga parent

“The community, friendships, connections to counselors and fostering of our daughter’s Jewish identity all make this a very positive experience for her and our family. Her growth and independence is through the roof.”Tawonga parent

“My (three) kids came back from Camp exuding such joy, confidence and self-reliance! Making the decision to send them to Tawonga is one of my proudest parenting moments.”Tawonga parent


Whether sleeping under the stars, exploring quintessential camp activities, or expanding leadership skills, campers leave Tawonga with lifelong memories and friendships. See for yourself:

Tawonga is Thriving Down the Mountain

As more community members report that Tawonga is their primary connection to Jewish life, our offerings in the Bay are resonating like never before. Tawongans of all ages gathered at a plethora of local programs throughout 2019 and we welcomed new families into the Tawonga fold.

Reimagining a Jewish Rite of Passage

2019 marked the fourth year of Tawonga’s Bar, Bat and B’nai Mitzvah Program, with 130 students enrolled. The small pilot that launched in 2016 has become a national model program for unaffiliated families seeking an alternative B’nai Mitzvah experience. In 2019, we expanded our parent education program and enhanced opportunities to explore Jewish identity through community building, service projects and mentorship. Meg Adler, our amazing B’nai Mitzvah Program Director, reflects on having reached this moment in her recent blog post.

Tawonga Alums Keep the Magic of Camp Alive

In 2019, with the leadership of Tawonga’s Young Alumni Board, our young adult cohort – 400 strong – gathered for a second synchronized multi-city Shabbat, participated in service projects, celebrated Passover together and met up for happy hours! Young Alumni Board member Noah Zaves describes the enduring beauty of the Tawonga bond in his blog post.

Looking Forward,
Forward Thinking . . .

Preserving our beloved campsite is more important than ever as Tawonga nears its 95th birthday. Our strategic plan is designed to enable Tawonga to serve the Jewish community for the next generation and beyond. These 2019 construction projects are just the beginning.


We welcomed a newly expanded and eco-friendly Dining Hall in the 2019 summer season! The 16% increase in square footage blends in seamlessly – and the extra space accommodates more tables to support our growing Camp community. Also new is an evaporative cooling system and radiant floor heating to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Construction continued during the 2019 off-season to expand the Dining Hall deck and stairs. The roomier, ADA-accessible space is perfect for dining al fresco and running innovative programming!

To the excitement of many participants in our 2019 summer season, Tawonga introduced five new camper cabins! Each one features a roomy deck make of Tawonga cedar, full insulation, fire sprinklers and “hidden” electricity for Family Camps and off-season use. In the fall, we began construction on the final five additional cabins on the other side of Camp. Those bunks will be ready for campers during the 2020 season.

We are thrilled that 2019 brought to fruition a long-awaited project – burying Camp’s PG&E electrical wires underground. This initiative improves grid stability, supports fire prevention and increases the safety of our campsite. Last but not necessarily least, this project makes Camp even more beautiful, keeping all wires and technological distractions out of sight.

Why fundraise?

Fees cover just 80% of what it costs to provide Camperships, design innovate programming and maintain our 166-acre property. Donations bridge the gap and make Tawonga accessible to everyone.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous financial assistance we’ve received. We could not participate without it and Camp Tawonga has played an integral role in my daughter’s social and emotional development and our connection to the Jewish community.”Campership parent

Dedicated Donor Spotlights

Alcabes Family


We Give Because…
Everyone deserves an opportunity to be surrounded by those inspiring tall, tall trees. I look forward to my boys and the next generation getting to experience the beauty of Camp for themselves.

Why Tawonga?
Spending time at Camp shaped my childhood in many ways, and my values are intertwined with Tawonga teachings. Tawonga helped form my Jewish identity, deepened my connection to nature and fostered personal growth.

Goldfarb/Madison Family

We Give Because…
We know firsthand the transformative impact of Tawonga and want to share it with others. I was a camper, counselor, backpacking leader and now attend Family Camp. Each phase of my Tawonga journey has helped me build a sense of self that’s rooted in kindness, care for the environment and a strong Jewish identity.

Why Tawonga?
Camp Tawonga’s stated values of inclusiveness, environmentalism and Tikkun Olam build community and inspire goodness in the larger world. We have so many lifelong friends who are doing amazing work and trace their paths back to Tawonga.




Annual Donors – It’s All Thanks to You!

The individuals and institutions that support Tawonga’s Annual Fund are the true change-makers. Thank you for impacting so many children, families and young adults.

Your support makes all of this possible. Click here to view all our 2019 annual donors.


Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is an inspiring group of professionals with tremendous expertise in finance, business, tech, PR, communications and child development. With their vision, guidance and leadership, Tawonga is in amazing hands.

Tawonga Board of Directors

Jeff Zlot – President Neil Hallinan Jen Spitzer
Stacy Mason – Vice President Seth Leslie ◊ Jennifer Strasburg
Ezra Berman – Treasurer Alexis Lezin Dennis Troper
Tali Levy – Secretary Mary Scott Lynn Raziel Ungar
Michelle Kletter – Member-at-Large Mike Potter Deborah Wexler
Lena Brook 🄯 Ari Rabin Jon Yolles
Jessica Chizen Renee Samson Betsy Zeger
Rabbi Mychal Copeland ◊ Lori Silverstein ◊

◊ ended term of service in 2019
🄯  began term of service in 2020

Tawonga Legacy Society

Our Legacy Society members secure Camp’s future by including Tawonga in their will, trust, retirement account, or life insurance policy. Thank you to our members – your investment is deeply appreciated.

Tawonga Legacy Society members

Adam Alcabes Steve Gershik Ken* & Felicia Kramarz Norman Schlossberg
Anonymous Melinna Askin Gershik Marilyn* & Steve Lazar Renee Samson
Ari A. Baruth Jordan Gill Jessica Leo Randall Schwartz
Adam Berman Len Goldberg Josh Leslie Larissa (Lara) Siegel
Jen & Jon Boxerman Nicole Goldstein Roger M. Low Lori Silverstein
Gabrielle Bressack Ann Gonski & John Scott Aaron Mandel Stella Sedletskaya
Barbara & Lawrence* Cahn Norm* & Squeek Grabstein* Rebecca L. Meyer Libby & Frank Silver
Steve Catechi Richard Grabstein & Harriette Unger Sydney Mintz Jamie Simon
Jessica Chizen Jeff Greendorfer Eva & Ernest Newbrun Katelyn Rose Simons
Heather Robert Coffman & David E. Coffman Harold Grinspoon Joyce Newstat Ben Simrin
Eleanor & Ralph* Coffman Rabbi Sholom Groesberg* Barbara Niss Nora Smith
Cohen Family Robert Heller* Erick Ordin & Miriam Marx Ordin Diane Stern & Alejandro Quintana
Jessica Colvin Rachael Henderson Elise Peck Judy Stern & Dan Mihalovich
Kenneth* & Thelma Colvin* Jed Herman Brian Permutt Melanie Wartenberg
Ashley & Jamie Costello Sheila & Ned Himmel Avi & Sarah Perna Sharon & Joshua Weinberg
Ilana Drummond Yeva Johnson & Michael Potter Caitlin Quinn Adam Weisberg
Daniel Edelson Ryley Katz Eric Raznick & Tracey Erwin Marilyn* & Raymond Weisberg*
Susan & Bill Epstein Nina Kaufman & Dan Kaplan Sue Reinhold & Deborah Newbrun Lisa & Matthew Wertheim
Denise Feinsod Gene & Susan Kaufman Monica Pallie Rocchino Brian Wise
Philip & Lisa Feldman Rachael Kirk-Cortez Saul & Barbara Rockman Harold & Mary Zlot
Michael & Anna Fogelman Joseph & Leslie Kleitman Gregg Ivan Bernell Rubenstein
Darin Freitag Michelle & Sue Kletter John F. Sampson

*of blessed memory

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