This month’s Alumni Spotlight features Bobbie Katz Hinden! Bobbie is a Chippy alum, Chippy sister, Chippy mom and Chippy aunt…CRC runs deep in her blood! In addition to being an awesome and active member of the Chippewa alumnae community, Bobbie does amazing work at Family Focus Highland Park. We are very proud to claim Bobbie as one of our own- someone who has truly demonstrated what it means to be moral and kind. A huge thank you to Bobbie for taking the time to reflect on her camp experience and for sharing with us her memories from her camper days. Read below to learn all about Bobbie’s life at CRC as well as about her current world which includes family, friends and helping others!
What years were you at CRC?
1965 - 1968
Which summer was your favorite and why?
Trailriders. By far. It was the year that brought all of the cabins of the same age together under one roof. It eliminated the cliques and encouraged one cohesive group. No more nerd cabin vs. the cool girl cabin. BTW…I was always in the nerd cabin and proud to admit it. Trailriders was my last summer.
What is your favorite camp memory?
Trailriders camping trip led by Gayle Montalvo and Nuppie (sp.?) I forget exactly where we went, but I remember riding all jammed together in an open truck with sides…in the rain. (Clearly, no parent would ever put up with that today!) We got to stay in a crappy motel because of the rain…with a clean pool. It was so much fun. And, we ended up in Duluth…the big city! People were walking up and down the streets in their business attire while we were wearing basic camp… with soup can sized rollers in our hair! (At least we had showered!) Lots of fun around campfires. Also, Trailriders planned Final Banquet. I could be wrong, but I think the theme that year was Christmas in July. Maybe that started the tradition?
What was your favorite activity at camp?
LOL…not much of an athlete. However, I did get one of those coveted Instructor’s Aide sweatshirts for FENCING! How ridiculous is that? Any old timers remember Pat Kaufman? She was the fencing counselor. I did love archery, and even riflery. Not very politically correct.
Were you a Tan or a White?
Definitely a Tan! No question. Tans have heart.
How do you keep in touch with your camp friends?
After a junior high school reunion nine years ago, I reconnected with some of the Chippewa group from Glencoe. Now, I’m in touch with Robbin Garman (Delva) and Nancy Horwitz (Feldman) on Facebook. Both of them live in Denver. I’m also friends on Facebook with Judy Bard, Linda Hensel, Loni Smith, and others. Caron Mitchell (Comin) also lives in Highland Park, and we see each other often. Of course, I LOVE my Chippy buddies from the GOF! Always excited to see them whenever possible.
What do you miss most about camp?
The beautiful setting, the smell (outside, not inside), “lazy days”, letters from home, some of the good friends with whom I’ve lost touch.
Where do you live now?
Highland Park…doesn’t everyone ;)?
What do you do for work? Tell us about the organization, your role, projects that you work on, who you serve, etc…
I have worked for Family Focus Highland Park for almost 14 years. For the first ten years I was the director of the after school program, called ASAP. ASAP was held in three Highland Park schools. I became director of Highland Park center three years ago.
Family Focus has seven centers all over the Chicagoland area from Englewood, Lawndale and Hermosa in the city, to Aurora, Evanston and Highland Park. Since 1983, Family Focus has offered community-based programs for young children and families. Currently, our programs serve about 125 families, mostly low income Latino families living in communities all over Lake County. Our services reach as far north as Antioch, Round Lake and Waukegan.
Family Focus currently provides a home visiting program and our Early Childhood Dual Language program. Our Parent Educators visit the homes of families with children from birth to three, helping parents learn to become their child’s best, first teachers. The Early Childhood Dual Language program holds classes in English and Spanish for parents and children from birth to five. Each session includes playtime, art, literacy, music and more, aiding in bilingual language development at the age when most of that learning occurs.
Visits from the Parent Educator also help reduce the isolation parents feel, both from their family of origin and from the at times unfamiliar culture of the surrounding communities. During the pandemic, feelings of isolation are even greater, especially during pregnancy or the stages of early childhood when participants can’t connect with other family members or with their neighbors. Our Parent Educators are continuing to visit homes virtually. Families tell us that the Parent Educators have been essential to helping them survive, thrive and feel connected.
Since the onset of the coronavirus, our families have faced additional overwhelming challenges. The virus has swept through entire households, from vulnerable grandparents to young children. Loss of employment has been widespread and the majority of our families are undocumented, without access to government support. Shortages of food, baby needs (diapers, wipes, formula, clothes), money for rent and utilities have impacted the physical and mental health of many. Family Focus has been instrumental in helping refer families to local resources and has spent long hours working to raise funds and to connect with vendors and donors to provide the needed supplies. We feel lucky that our center is located in an area where people give generously during tough times.
Some of the efforts we have engaged in include:
• Connecting with an agency to provide diapers twice a month that we deliver to our low income families.
• Purchasing culturally appropriate weekly groceries, delivered by Parent Educators to each home.
• Providing donated Lyft gift cards and gas cards to help families without transportation…especially to get to medical appointments.
• Raising money to provide rental assistance to families when one or both parents are unemployed.
• Planning monthly “car parades” for families to drive through a location, picking up groceries, gift cards, activities for children to do at home, sweet treats, baby wipes and bottles and more. These parades have not only provided needed items to families, they have also given families a chance to see each other and have some fun. Children wave from cars with smiling faces.
• Providing PPE kits with hand sanitizer, wipes and masks.
• Raising money to purchase gift cards from Aldi, Jewel, Walmart and Target.
• Purchasing newborn supplies including cribs, clothes, strollers and car seats…even for a family with newborn triplets!
We are already concerned about the upcoming winter months. The whole Family Focus Highland Park team is working to support our families as instances of COVID-19 rise and the cold weather is upon us. I have always been proud to work for an agency that focuses on supporting the needs of families as a whole.
Is there anything else you want to share with your Chippy family?
Yes! I have had the opportunity to observe the changes Chippewa has made over many years. I take full credit for starting the tradition of all of the girls in my family becoming Chippies. That began with my two younger sisters, Marilyn and Patti, who love when I acknowledge being the oldest. Patti attended Chippewa for 13 summers, and lived in the North Woods even longer. Then my daughter, Kato, bested Patti by going to camp for 14 summers…so far. And my niece, Sara Sawyer, too. During her most recent summer, Kato was accompanied by Rahul, her husband, who loved his first summer at camp. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up returning with my grandson, Louie, who is already primed for a Chippy summer.
The point I’d like to make here is that Chippewa bears little resemblance to the camp it was when I was a camper. That isn’t to say it looks that different. There have been lots of amazing upgrades and cabins added to the Chippewa map, but basically it looks the same. That makes it very nostalgic whenever I’m there.
Where it feels so different to me is the completely warm, welcoming atmosphere I sense. It’s a place where girls can come to be whoever they want to be for eight weeks. I’ve seen some wonderfully weird girls dancing around the waterfront without a care. I’ve seen Sari in her lime green romper. I have attended dance shows where some girls are clearly talented and others haven’t a clue. Girls of different backgrounds,cultures, shapes and sizes running around, seemingly without a care. This is why there’s a waiting list. I remember when that wasn’t the case. So, kudos to you Chippewa, for being a summer refuge for so many. I’ll continue to come whenever you invite me…if you don’t make me sleep in a cot or jump into Dam Lake.