Campership Family Spotlight:
After losing her husband to pancreatic cancer – and the only link her kids had to Judaism – Kim Manning found Tawonga.
Jim and Kim Manning planned to raise their kids, Joey (14) and Bianca (10), with a sense of spirituality that touched on their diverse, collective religious backgrounds. Jim’s mother was the family’s link to Judaism, and the Mannings enjoyed a cultural connection to Jewish life, albeit informal and sporadic. In 2009, Jim passed away, losing a tragic fight to pancreatic cancer. Joey was six and Bianca two. Devastated, Kim found healing through Camp Kesem, which supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer.
Out of the fog several years later, Kim was seeking a camp experience for Joey and Bianca with the same depth and sense of community that Kesem offered. She had heard of Camp Tawonga in Berkeley circles but worried the cost would overwhelm her single-income household. That’s when she learned of Tawonga’s Campership Fund.
With the financial assistance, Joey attended A Taste of Quest in 2015, and returned starry eyed. “It was absolutely amazing for him. He felt like he could be part of a community and connect to nature. He also was able to embrace a part of his father’s legacy by learning new things about Judaism, like the rich traditions and songs. He repeatedly said it was the best part of his entire year.”
This coming summer will be Joey’s third Tawonga experience and Bianca’s second, all with the support of the Campership Fund. “Without the assistance, there is no way I could have afforded this for two kids,” Kim shared. “I’m deeply grateful to Tawonga for not just allowing our family to be a part of this community, but for helping us with such openness and generosity. It feels good to be accepted.”
Kim has observed that Tawonga has given Joey and Bianca a new perspective, making them more aware of their Jewish identity and the Jewish experience worldwide. She also appreciates that they can be more open at Camp, among people who are compassionate and understanding of complicated backgrounds like her family’s.
“Jim would be very happy to know I am sending our children to Tawonga and getting this
outdoor as well as Jewish experience” Kim shared. “I listened to my instinct when applying for the
first time and felt he was guiding me.”
When Kim asked Joey recently what Tawonga means to him, he responded, “I feel closer to dad when I’m at Camp because I’m doing things that I would have done with him, like camping and hiking and being outdoors. I feel like I’m with him more and with people that get me. I can be myself.”