Eliana’s Story: “A Totally Different Child”

How Camp Helped One Girl’s Happiness

Photo provided by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati


In this interview, Irene Clayton and her daughter, Eliana, share how much the chance to go to Camp Livingston, aided by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, means to them. Irene is from Israel, but now calls Cincinnati home. Located in southeastern Indiana, Camp Livingston has been a Jewish overnight camp for over 90 years.


Danielle V. Minson: What made Camp Livingston so important for Eliana?

Irene Clayton: Before camp, Eliana was very shy. On the other side, she was very hyper. Teachers used to call her “Energizer” [laughs]. We got to go to an Open House at Camp Livingston, and I saw a totally different Eliana. I saw a totally different child. She was very blended in the nature and she loved the activities. And I realized that nature calmed her down, is good for her. And that’s when I knew – this is the place for her.


Danielle: Eliana, what was it like?

Eliana: When we got there, we went to my cabin, which was the Eilat cabin; it was closest to the cafeteria, and I went inside and I chose a bunk and I just put all my stuff there. And I was excited that I was going to be at camp for a whole month. And everyone was so happy and excited, and it really was a good experience.

Irene: When Eliana came back from camp, I felt like she is more independent, more secure; she is making friends so quickly.

Eliana: The first year I didn’t know anyone and I was a little shy, but then my second year, I knew a lot of people and it was much better.


Danielle: What else changed for Eliana?

Irene: She’s not shy anymore. She is proud to be part of the Camp Livingston family. In the letters that she sent me from camp, she said: “I tried a zip line today, I am so proud of myself.” She doesn’t need to be afraid. There is somebody to stand behind her if anything happens. I could never afford to send Eliana to camp without the big help of the Jewish Federation.

[Also,] Camp Livingston is the best place for Eliana. She really loves it. She got a canoe paddle as an award last year and she hung it in her room – her whole room is Camp Livingston.


Danielle: Eliana, what is the canoe paddle story?

Eliana: So I always used to like going on the lake, but I didn’t like going in the water, so I always went kayaking for the whole year. Every time we had lake stuff I always went in the kayak and paddled. So, at the end there they give awards, and they gave me this [shows paddle] for most spirited kayaker.


Danielle: Eliana, what are you like at camp?

Eliana: I’m really energetic and excited to do everything. On the zip line I was a little nervous, but then when I did it, it was really fun. And I kept trying new things and it was really great.


Danielle: Anything else to say about camp?

Eliana: Camp Livingston makes me feel really happy. Every Saturday night, we go by the menorah and we say prayers and we light it. And it makes me feel really good that I am in such a big community. I love Camp Livingston!


Needs-based scholarships are provided to campers at Camp Livingston through generous donations to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Annual Campaign.

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is located at 8499 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236. To get involved or give back, call 513.985.1500, email info@jfedcin.org or visit jewishcincinnati.org. Together we can do almost anything.