“Tawonga taught me how to understand other people’s feelings.”
Camper Spotlight: Peri Charmatz
Since the first time Peri Charmatz stepped foot on Camp Tawonga as a little girl, she knew she wanted to go back right away. “I felt a sense of community there I hadn’t felt anywhere else I’ve ever been – like I belonged.” Peri began her Tawonga journey attending Family Camp Weekends, then as a camper at eight-years old. She hasn’t missed a summer since.
When it came time for her Bat Mitzvah last year, Peri immediately thought of Camp. “I don’t need more gifts. My greatest gift has been that I’ve been able to go to Tawonga, and I wanted to share this with others. I want people to understand the way I feel about Camp.” So in lieu of presents for herself, Peri asked her family and friends to make donations to Tawonga’s Campership Fund in honor of her Bat Mitzvah, to send children to Camp who would otherwise not be able to afford it. As a result, $4,125 went directly to the Fund, which supports 450 families every year to provide a Tawonga experience for their children.
“Tawonga is amazing. It taught me how to be myself and how to understand other people’s feelings. And it taught me how to get back to nature. I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Peri’s philanthropic duty and sense of giving back has also been influenced by her parents, long-time supporters of Camp. You can see where Peri’s love for Tawonga comes from when you talk to her mom, Sara Witt:
“I can close my eyes and remember details of our family’s three summers at Camp Tawonga when our kids were so tiny. I can see them going off on the bus without us for the first time. And then I can see the heartfelt hugs and tears to dear friends at the session’s end — goodbye to the summer and the connections, joy, community, fun and nature. But then I can see those friendships and experiences continuing as they make efforts to stay in touch, looking forward to seeing their Camp friends. And then I see our lives… and a place called Tawonga… filled with experiences that our whole family and so many friends share — and I get teary-eyed with happy memories.”