On Sunday, October 29th, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will proudly hold our 5th annual Tour de Summer Camps, the community-wide cycling and hiking fundraiser that helps provide scholarships to send more of our kids to Jewish summer camp and help them build a lifelong connection to Jewish identity and values. This is the first year a hike has been added, bringing even more fun to this family and community-filled day!
This year, we are profiling a few of our riders and hikers to find out why they participate in Tour de Summer Camps and what Jewish summer camp means to them.
Why did you decide to participate in Tour de Summer Camps this year?
I love riding in Tour de Summer Camps! I’ve participated every year since it started in 2013 and I add the event to my calendar the moment I learn the date each year. This is my opportunity to give back to the Federation — an organization that gave me so much as a child and teen.
How many miles are you riding?
I’ll be riding the century — 100 miles (fingers crossed!).
Are you on a team?
Yes, I’m fundraising with my coworkers and Federation lay leaders on Team JFed! I haven’t started my fundraising yet, but that just proves how easy it is! It’s never too late to start — whenever I tell my friends and family that I’m raising money for kids to go to Jewish summer camp, they can’t wait to support such a great cause. It never takes long to reach my goal and even surpass it.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming ride?
I love the camaraderie of the ride. Each year I end up riding with new people who keep a similar pace and I get to know them. Last year, the event was rainy and I commiserated with other sopping wet riders — we were all soaked from the rain, but still had such a great time. The year before, I rode with one of the other five women riding the century course. We chatted about how the first year of the ride only included three women who completed the 100-mile ride, and each year we add a few more female riders. I can’t wait to ride the century with even more strong, driven women this year!
How are you preparing/training for the ride?
I try to ride as often as I can. I’ve started riding to work (don’t worry, I only use small side streets with limited traffic). I find that the best way to train is with friends, so I try to plan ridesover the weekends. We meet in pairs or small groups and explore new areas of the city together. My favorite rides are in Griffith Park or along the coast in Palos Verdes.
Did you attend Jewish summer camp, and what impact did it have on your life?
Yes. I attended Camp Swig and Camp Newman for over a decade.
Camp was a magical place for me as a child. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and board the bus for a week, a month, or the whole summer. Camp offered me a space to develop my Jewish identity apart from my family. It was a foundational experience for me.
Why is it important for you to support Tour de Summer Camps?
I want every kid to have the same opportunity that I had. Some families aren’t able to afford camp on their own, but that shouldn’t hinder their ability to give their children the best summer experience possible. If we all pitch in, we ensure that a child’s dream to attend camp is within reach.
What would you say to people who are nervous about the distance of the ride/hike?
Challenge yourself! Start small if you’re nervous about some of the longer distances (you can always try for more next year). If you’re worried you don’t know anyone, sign up with a friend! That way you have a permanent training buddy for motivation. And even if you sign up solo, you’ll have the opportunity to meet dozens of riders and hikers on the course who share your goal to bring camp to the hearts of every Jewish child.
How would you encourage your friends who are thinking about participating in Tour de Summer Camps on October 29th?
Go for it! This ride is fantastic for so many reasons: you meet new people, get exercise, and come together with the rest of the Jewish community all while raising important funds for camperships. There’s no reason not to!
Each year, hundreds of community members fundraise for months, do training rides and hikes, and join us to either bike 18, 36, 62, or 100 miles or hike 1, 3, or 6 miles on a day filled with activity, community, and fun.
To sign up for Tour de Summer Camps, please visit tourdesummercamps.org. Looking forward to October 29th and sending more kids to Jewish Summer Camp!
Questions? Please email MHamerman@JewishLA.org.