Funder Profile: David Haller
"Camp Jenny has a special kind of magic that allows people from two different worlds to come together and interact in a way that is almost pure love, without any regard to race, religion, money or politics."
David Haller was just 15 years old when he and two SEFTY (Southeast Federation of Temple Youth) friends were selected to do an ambitious Mitzvah Corps project-- to create a one-weekend camp for impoverished children, run entirely by volunteer teenage leadership. David attributes his life-long commitment as a camp and youth program donor, and even his adult world view, to this early social justice experience.
That first summer, over 30 years ago, 50 SEFTY teens hosted 50 kids from Atlanta for a Memorial Day weekend camp held at URJ Camp Coleman. With teenage David leading the camp as director for the first two years, the Jenny Rosenthal Memorial Mitzvah Corps Camp (in memory of a camp friend), thrived. Since then the camp, renamed Camp Jenny, has been a point of pride for the elementary students in Atlanta (who must earn their way with good grades, attendance etc.), the school community, and our participating URJ teens and alumni.
One of the many goals of Camp Jenny, David said, “is to provide our teens with the tools they need to become future Jewish leaders—including fundraising experience.” NFTY teens, temple youth groups, and adult volunteers must raise $75K each year to make Camp Jenny happen. Zealous youth groups hold fundraisers all year long. And importantly, “We ask the teen and adult staff to personally fundraise $200 each - $10 from twenty people,” said David, who discreetly provides starter donations for each teen setting up a fundraising page.
“We encourage our teen staff to be responsible, to make sure Camp Jenny has all the money it needs to function. We give them the leadership tool of fundraising.”
For over 30 years, Camp Jenny has been supported by the members, youth groups, and synagogues of NFTY-SAR and STR. In 2018, 163 NFTYites, 124 adults, and 126 students from F.L. Stanton Elementary School participated in this life-changing program.