Camps Airy & Louise recently honored Neil Berlin, the camps’ former director of operations, by dedicating a basketball court at Camp Airy in his name. The dedication honored not only Berlin’s impact on the camps, but his love of basketball.
Berlin died on Feb. 25, 2022, at 44, having been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017. He spent much of his life at Camp Airy — first as a camper, then as a counselor. He worked his way up in the camp until he became its director of operations, with his wife Alicia Berlin directing Camp Louise, Camp Airy’s sister camp for girls.
“[Neil] made his mark on both camps,” Alicia Berlin said. “Because of his history at each camp, we wanted to mark some space at those camps in his memory.”
This is the second space at the camps named in Berlin’s memory. During the summer of 2022, one of the stages in Jill’s Place, a Camp Louise theater named after camper Jill Bearman, was renamed as the Neil Berlin Stage. This was in part because he was well-known for running game shows at the camps, and he would often cameo in the stage shows.
The basketball court was dedicated for a similar reason, as Neil Berlin was a lifelong basketball player. In college, he was the manager of the Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team. At camp, he played in the Airy Basketball League. His name was painted onto the court as a permanent fixture honoring his memory.
“Perhaps his most cherished camp role was playing in the ABL – Airy Basketball League,” reads a commemorative plaque installed near the basketball court. “We remember Neil on the court where he competed, with the heart and spirit that only a Duke University Blue Devil could show.”
The basketball court was dedicated in an official ceremony on June 22, where staff members at Camps Airy & Louise shared their memories of Neil Berlin.
“Neil and I were friends for a long, long time and I wanted to share a part of that history to help you understand why it’s important and special to me to be able to put this mark here at Airy for Neil, to celebrate all he did for us, for both camps,” said Marty Rochlin, the current director of Camp Airy and the co-director of Camps Airy & Louise. “He and his family will always be special to us.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony were Alicia Berlin, daughters Hannah and Marissa, 16, and Ellie, 14, as well as Neil Berlin’s mother Sherry Berlin, sister Beth Cohen and nieces Harper and Avery.
Alicia Berlin noted that the outpouring of support she and her family have received from the Camps Airy & Louise community has been truly humbling.
“After Neil died, we were overwhelmed with the generosity of friends and family making donations towards the camps,” she said. “He was proud to be a husband and a father, and that was evident in everything he did.”