Jennie Becker

Jennie Becker giving the commencement address to Hawken School’s class of 2021 in June.

As July’s humid adventure cools into school-ready August, children across the nation mourn the passing of beloved summer camps.

But for Jennie Becker, 35, who chairs the Mandel Jewish Community Center’s Camp Wise alumni committee and is a member of Camp Wise’s camp committee in Claridon Township and Beachwood, fall never ended her time at camp.

Jewish summer camp has been closely intertwined with Becker’s life since she was a girl, where she grew up in Youngstown attending Jewish day school, JCC preschool and camp. She started her professional career in high school by working at a JCC camp in Florida.

This love for Jewish summer camps followed Becker through college and graduate school, where she studied to become a science teacher. Instead of scoring a teaching job post graduation, Becker moved to Cleveland to become the assistant director of Camp Wise.

“Camp Wise showed me what a strong, free, proud Jewish community could look like in a way I had not seen, even though I grew up in a tight knit Jewish community,” said Becker, a resident of Shaker Heights.

After three years as Camp Wise’s assistant director, Becker’s summer finally ended and school started.

She returned to her aspiration of becoming a teacher, taking a job as an environmental science, biology and science of cooking and baking teacher at Hawken School’s upper school in Chester Township. She continues to be active with Camp Wise outside of her committee involvements, volunteering when needed.

Becker was nominated to receive the 12 Under 36:Members of the Tribe award due to her efforts at Hawken and Camp Wise with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being that Camp Wise couldn’t function due to the virus in 2020, Becker raised much needed funds to help the camp remain open.

At Hawken, Becker founded Teens4Vaccines with her students, where the club educates teens about COVID vaccine availability through social media, books vaccination appointments for those in-need and volunteered at MedWorks to help administer vaccines.

“Soon, we were booking tons of appointments,” Becker said. “It just spiraled.”

Becker also created COVID-19 curriculum starting in January 2020, where she and her students studied the news, asked and answered questions and closely followed the vaccine’s creation.

“It’s one thing to teach public health, and it’s another to teach it live during a public health crisis,” Becker said.

Additionally, Becker leads a Jewish affinity student group at Hawken, where she engages with Jewish students about their faith and embracing their Jewish identity and culture. She also gave the commencement address to the 2021 class of Hawken upper school graduates in June.

Children have served as the crux of Becker’s professional efforts since she was in high school. Now, all she has to do is look at her almost 2-year-old son, Abe, to remember that everything she does is for the next generation of creative thinkers and difference makers.

“My husband and I really want Abe to go to Camp Wise and have the experience that we both had,” Becker said. “I always want to help with its continuity, and make sure that it has what it needs to keep serving kids.”

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