Event those of us who never attended summer camp can imagine what it entails: spooky stories by the campfire, nights under the stars and lots of yummy, not-so-healthy food.
Sending special needs and at-risk Michigan kids to camp is the mission of the Bear Hug Foundation, and its annual fundraiser, held at the Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield on March 14, incorporated several touches to evoke the summertime experience.
“We wanted a mystical theme,” says Carrie Kovan, Bear Hug’s development director. Accordingly, attendees at the dinner could get their palm read or try a tarot card reading at two stations. An adjacent table offered temporary decorative tattoos.
Star Trax provided a digital photo kiosk, while Joe Cornell Entertainment supplied the disc jockey. Table centerpieces, provided by Coden Flowers, featured pink, purple and fuchsia arrangements atop black tablecloths.
The event’s signature cocktail, Bug Juice, included Midori, pineapple juice and club soda; guests could request an added shot of liquor.
The food complemented the camp motif by offering a grown-up take on kid favorites. At the Cozy Comfort station, guests could select mini chicken pot pie, mini mac and cheese, and meatloaf-and-mashed-potato cupcakes. Sliders, fries and pizza rounded out the main offerings. Dessert was ice-cream-and-cookie sandwiches, provided by Eskimo Jack’s.
The event also made sure attendees connected with Bear Hug’s mission. One of the organization’s young beneficiaries spoke about his experience attending camp in 2014 and how it benefited him. A laptop played video of kids playing at camp, with a sign-up sheet for those willing to pay $250 to send a child to camp for one week.
Next year, Bear Hug might include families and kids from the groups the organization sponsors, says Bear Hug Executive Director Jennifer Kellman-Fritz. For now, she’s pleased with the evening’s outcomes.
“I think that the event was a huge success,” she says. “People had a wonderful time and especially loved the food! The place was great ... and people were able to spend time together, learn about Bear Hug and enjoy the evening.”