Remembering Our Parents:
Endowing Performing Arts at Camp Tawonga
David and Steve Gershik
When our mom and dad died, we wanted to remember them for all the wonderful, loving things they had done for us. We quickly agreed that their decision in 1979 to send us to Camp Tawonga was the decision that changed the trajectory of our lives, and that Camp was the right place to establish a permanent memorial.
We chose to create the “Marlene and Marty Gershik Endowment for the Performing Arts” because among all the fun and adventures we had as campers, on staff and as board members, it was Tawonga’s unique approach to theater that really resonated with us. Here’s Camp’s secret formula: Provide a social environment that is loving and supportive, and then encourage kids to challenge themselves to try out new activities, new ideas and new identities. And like magic, new and improved kids appear on stage!
All four of our children – Sam, Leo, Ali and Sarah – have gone to Camp nearly every year they’ve been able. Both Sam and Leo were Counselors-in-Training and Sam has been on staff for two years. Leo spent many years entertaining during campfire activities, Sam was often the emcee of the talent show and Ali and Sarah performed almost every year and at family camp. And when they returned home – oh, wow – they were endowed with the “Tawonga halo,” wanting to stay hydrated, focus on ecology and Tikkun Olam and interacting with each other and their friends without the use of electronic devices. Of course, the halo would eventually wear off, and just in time, another summer at Camp would arrive!
Just a year before they died, our parents attended Family Camp with us and all the grandchildren, the first time we had all been together during a Camp program. It was wonderful seeing them in the place that had left such a deep impression on their kids three decades earlier!
Now, we are so grateful that we can ensure that future generations of Tawongans can share the same magical experiences that we and all our children have loved so much. We know our parents are kvelling.