Fly on the Road: Field Notes from Chattanooga, Tenn.

By August 29, 2016On the Road
Recently, we filmed a group of children who were enthusiastically putting a Confucian philosophy into action at the Philanthropy Camp in Chattanooga, Tenn: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

This innovative week-long program gives children as young as six years old the opportunity to actively connect with others in their community and give back, supporting and encouraging future do-gooders.

As one of the camp’s founders Alison Lebovitz said, “We started philanthropy camp as a way to engage our youngest generation. We wanted them to understand not just what it meant to fund-raise, which is what a lot of adults think philanthropy is, but to friend-raise, to really make significant, meaningful and memorable connections.”

Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, in partnership with a local church, the camp has been making an impact in and beyond its city for more than eight years. In just a single day of camp, we witnessed the children asking seniors about their lives, putting big smiles on everyone’s faces; learning about painting from a blind man and a deaf woman; and building their own concept of a utopic city called CareTown from recycled materials.

“Just like all other academic areas have to be taught,” said parent Rebecca Parker, “we have to teach our children how to be compassionate toward each other.”

“This is an investment in our children, our Jewish children, our Christian children, our Muslim children,” said executive director Michael Dzik. “It’s an investment in all of Chattanooga, and that’s what the federation does. We invest in our youth, we educate, we engage, and we empower. We can make a difference by doing those things.”