Words for the Wise – Building right for the future!

In September my family’s major accomplishment was finally moving into our new home in Beachwood! After relocating from Texas and making the most of a safe, joyous, and fast-paced summer at The Home of Happiness, we’re thankfully settled back home in CLE! This October, with the last box nearly unpacked, I stood outside determined to build our Sukkah for the first time in our new yard. While the Sukkot weather was sure different than in Texas, one thing remained the same – I still made the same mistakes I do every year when building the Sukkah frame… who needs directions, right?

In the end, the sukkah stood tall and we enjoyed many meals outdoors as a family. However, my annual blunder with the poles and brackets caused me to reflect on the timing of it all. The Jewish new year begins and the first thing we’re supposed to do is build. Granted, the project is a flimsy hut made of branches and leaves, but no matter. Even after the intense weeks of learning from our errors and seeking forgiveness, Judaism says, “now try again and practice building something new!”

At Camp Wise, after 115 years, we’re beginning to do just that— renewing the past and building new spaces for the future. This off-season marks the first major construction project since the Health Center in 2013.


Reaching New Heights

Overview of our Jewish-Star shaped course, with two zip-lines.

As you read this, crews from ABEE are working to complete the new Camp Wise High Ropes Adventure Course, which opens for camp Summer of 2023. The course features a double-decker high ropes circuit with over 20 challenges, a two-sided climbing wall, two new zip lines (the longest over 200’!), a vertical playground, a giant swing and more. Every camper will be able to maximize their time climbing and team-building on the course. This new addition will benefit cabin groups and individual experiences, alike.

We want to share the excitement by inviting alumni, new and returning campers to an open house at Camp Wise on November 20 from 2 – 4 pm. You will have a preview look at the adventure course, ride the new Giant Swing, explore this exciting project and continue the energy of our registration season. Please RSVP to the camp office by November 16.

Where You Fit In. We are turning to our ever-supportive and generous alumni community and camper families to help complete this major project that emerged as an immediate capital need at Camp Wise. Over a short period of time the trees and forest surrounding our old course have aged to the point where they no longer support the weight and activity of climbing. When exploring a new course, we knew that a sustainable course was a must for this and future generations! The High Ropes Adventure course requires nearly $400,000 to complete. Camp Wise values your support of this project. Please consider making a gift –inscribing your quote on the wall or even naming a portion of the course after your family or someone special in your life.  Let me know if you’d like to speak about a contribution or make a contribution online with ease.

Construction of the new climbing tower in progress

A New Face

This fall and next spring our Facilities Manager Zach Rheaume is overseeing a renovation of our pool, as it gets renewed diamond-bright plaster and any leaks fixed. Many of our buildings around camp will receive new paint and exterior repairs and Zach is working hard on smaller landscaping projects in and around cabins and the campgrounds that will create more hiking paths and walk-able space around buildings. Zach also worked with the SIT class of 2022 to complete an awesome new bridge on the path from near chalutzim to the chapel that improves safety and access. All of these improvements will benefit 2023 campers directly!

A New Village

Overview of site for future Leadership Village duplexes, located to the east of the Hockey Rink

We are at the initial planning stages of significant capital investment in Camp Wise. The first phase of this multi-year project involves the development of a new Leadership Village.  When completed, the Leadership Village will consist of three to four structures that offer adult and family housing. These units will be used during the summer and year round for retreats and conferences. In the summer, Leadership Village will allow for a direct investment in the camper program and staff quality. We will be able to house area educators, clergy, physicians, artists and coaches –all of whom will contribute to the richness of Camp Wise’s program each summer – and their families. More news to come on this exciting project in the coming months! Until then, check out the initial graphics below!

Model drawing of duplex Leadership Village structure, including 2,800 sqft. of bedroom and living space. Each side will have 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a family room and kitchen.

As we begin to move forward on these and other projects, we reflect on the past and what we learned each summer of our amazing 115-year history as the core of Jewish Cleveland, dreaming of a future where Camp Wise can continue expanding programming and year-round impact based on the needs of our community. In the words of the renowned Rav Kook – our collective task in growing the Jewish community is “to help the old be renewed, and the new, be holy.”

We look forward to connecting with you and seeing you as we visit the region this fall and winter. Make sure you follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts for the latest schedules of Camp Wise visits and gatherings, including the “don’t miss” camper reunion events in Cleveland on November 23 and Columbus on December 11! –Rabbi Dan