BB Camp Alum Pays it Forward

by Stu Slayen | Aug 25, 2017
When David Klein stepped onto Town Island in 2014 for a B’nai Brith Camp alumni reunion, he was overcome by a deep sense of nostalgia and a deep desire to give back to a community that made his attendance at camp possible.

“My father passed away when I was 11,” says Klein, 63. “Our family was poor and couldn’t afford summer camp. My three siblings and I were able to go to BB Camp because of donors from the Jewish community.”

Klein, now a resident of Vancouver, describes his summers at BB as “transformative”. He attended three sessions every summer for six consecutive summers. “I looked forward to it all year,” says Klein. “I was in an advanced academic program at Faraday School and was the only Jewish kid in my class. It was a lonely time. At BB, I connected with kids from the previous summer and everyone was the same – rich, poor, north, south. I was like everyone else, and everyone else was like me.”

Klein recently decided that it was time to give back and help kids in financial need to attend BB Camp. He established the Klein Family Campership Fund with $36,000 representing $2,000 for each of the 18 sessions he was at camp. “I figured it was about time I paid my camp dues,” he jokes.

“BB taught me to play well with others, it taught me how to work as part of a team, and it taught me to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. It also gave me a strong sense of Jewishness and the values that encompasses,” says Klein. “The decision to make this gift is a direct result of what I gained from the BB experience.”

Klein is recognized as one of Canada’s leading class action lawyers. He recently represented female members of the RCMP in a class action about gender-based harassment and discrimination, and has been on the frontlines of numerous other high-profile cases. He studied law in Toronto and then settled in Vancouver with his wife. They have three adult children who all went to Jewish day camps in Vancouver and overnight camp at Camp Miriam. But for David Klein, Winnipeg and BB Camp hold special places in his heart. He expresses his passion through philanthropy and would like to see others do the same. 

“It’s important for us to think about the institutions that made a difference in our lives,” reflects Klein. “We can help those institutions grow stronger so that they provide the same kinds of experiences to current and future generations. We in the Jewish community have an obligation to do that.”