"It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in, Oh I would have liked to have known you, but I was just a kid, Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did." --Elton John
In November 1987, Elton John's song "Candle in the Wind" was a top ten hit. It was also the defining song of a beautiful young woman and her short, but powerful life. In that same fall, Jenny Rosenthal from Montgomery, Alabama was killed in a serious car accident. Jenny Rosenthal was a girl who spent most of her young life as a camper at Camp Coleman and was involved in NFTY. Everyone who had the chance to meet her fell in love her every passion! Jenny was a friend to every single person she met.
Jenny's death stunned hundreds of people throughout the Southeast. Nearly 60 friends from Camp Coleman traveled to pay their final respects to Jenny. After the funeral, Jenny's friends and family decided to honor her memory. Camp Jenny was founded in the spring of 1988 in memory of Jenny Rosenthal. The purpose of this program would be to provide a weekend at Camp Coleman for underprivileged children who have never had the chance to go to summer camp.
Camp Jenny, held at URJ Camp Coleman every Memorial Day weekend gives children the opportunity to receive the love of big "brothers and sisters," three nutritious meals a day, and encouragement for the future. They also enjoy activities such as hiking in the mountains, swimming, canoeing in the lake, arts and crafts, and a variety of sports and team building activities. Unfortunately, these are rare luxuries for most of them. Camp Jenny strives to provide children an opportunity to set goals in life and give the hope for a bright future. Most importantly, Camp Jenny has allowed these kids to be kids in a beautiful and safe place.
When Camp Jenny was first established in 1988, 40 lucky and deserving children were chosen to attend. Thanks to fundraising efforts of Temple Youth Groups in the NFTY-SAR and NFTY-STR the numbers have increased. Despite the fact that the entire staff is voluntary and must arrange their own transportation, the cost to send one smiling face to Camp Jenny is $500.00.
Camp Jenny had 150 campers participating in 2013. We currently partner with F.L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta, GA. The mission of the school is "to prepare all students to become responsible and productive members of our community and society. We believe that producing students who are disciplined, productive, competent, informed, and talented must be a cooperative effort between the home, school, and community."
Jenny Rosenthal's flame may have been extinguished years ago, but her smile and her spirit illuminate the lives of everyone associated with Camp Jenny. It is a shine that can't be taken away.