Maybe we cant afford Camp Swig

Now that the deal to sell Camp Swig has fallen through, local naysayers are getting what they wanted — a chance to make their own bid for the camp.

Why anyone would want that facility is baffling, however. Aside from the Holocaust chapel, which is a beautiful building and should be preserved or relocated, the camp buildings and its grounds are a disgrace.

The Reform movement, which owns the camp, estimates that it will cost $2 million to refurbish the property. They are probably being conservative. But even if the work could be done for what is still a considerable amount of money, why should so many philanthropic dollars be poured into a location that will still, when all is completed, remain on an earthquake fault?

Many Bay Area Jews have romantic memories about Camp Swig. They went there as teens, and their kids have gone there more recently. To them, selling the camp is like selling the home where they grew up. But people, in fact, do sell the homes where they were raised. Houses, like camps, get old. As time passes, needs change, and we must move on to meet those needs.

It's no surprise that the Reform movement wants out. Camp Newman in Sonoma County meets its needs. It's a much newer facility and one that can be developed into a large camp and year-round retreat facility.

The Reform movement made a huge mistake in agreeing to sell Swig without first discussing the reasons with the local Jewish community. But now that the sale has fallen through, there is plenty of time to hold community meetings and to consider other options for the facility.

While the San Jose federation likes the idea of having a camp and retreat in the South Bay, it may be tackling too large a project for its size and wherewithal.

The idea is worth some consideration. Ultimately, however, it might be best if another buyer outside the Jewish community is found.

Still, while the cost of rehabilitating Swig may be more than the community can and should spend, the cost of preserving or relocating the Holocaust monument is a price the entire community must bear.

At least there is now time to examine the situation and reach a consensus — if such a thing can exist among Jews.