On a summer Saturday morning, excited Three Oaks elementary students and parents gathered in the school parking lot with luggage and big smiles. They were waiting for the bus to arrive that would take them to camp. “Will it be a school bus?” asked Jorge, a first-time camper.
Local nonprofit, Islay’s Barrel, sent 8 local kids to YMCA Camp Eberhart this year—the third year that the philanthropy has worked with Three Oaks Elementary to provide deserving kids with this valuable opportunity. An initiative of Journeyman Distillery founders Johanna and Bill Welter, funds for the the summer camperships are raised at their annual Barrel Aged Brew Fest.
Bill fondly recalls his own childhood experiences at Camp Eberhart and acknowledges that he was fortunate to have the opportunity. “Being away from home, meeting new people, and trying new things for the first time and just having fun. These were all important milestones for me and will help build experiences that will last a life time for these kids. We work with school leadership to identify students that will most benefit from this modest investment in their future success.”
Veteran camper, Macie was returning to Camp Eberhart with a goal—to pass the “green level” swim test and jump off Coop’s Tower. “I tried last year, but got tired and only made it to the yellow level,” Macie confessed. She committed to doing better this year.
Camper excitement ratcheted up when the “camp bus,” a super-luxe mini-bus donated by Epic Limo pulled into the lot. As brothers Malaki and Makail raced to stow their luggage onboard, dad Jeff paused to share his thanks with the donors who made this experience possible. Jorge’s mom and dad cast an admiring glance around the glowing bus interior as the Three Oaks Elementary crew celebrated in the aisle.
Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Barrel Aged Brew Fest, scheduled for Saturday, October 19. 100% of ticket sales benefit Islay’s Barrel, a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to extend summer enrichment opportunities to Southwest Michigan children. Visit @IslaysBarrel on Facebook for event details and tickets.
Brewers wishing to compete for bragging rights and the coveted Golden Barrel Trophy are invited to apply online through July 19th at journeymandistillery.com/brew-