A New Adventure and a New Home
This summer, I was lucky to have the opportunity to work as a music specialist at URJ Camp Harlam, a reform Jewish summer camp in Kunkletown, Pennsylvania. Similar to what I do here for W&L Hillel, I led Shabbat services for the community, but I also found myself in a variety of other leadership situations: teaching guitar lessons, playing songs around campfires, calming a bunch of 12-year-old girls in the middle of a storm, and even steering a boat while whitewater rafting. Being a music specialist evolved into something much larger than my specialty – while I was helping kids of all ages find themselves and their Jewish identities, I found more of myself too.
Many studies suggest that one of the best ways to check that you fully understand a concept is to teach it to someone else. While teaching all of Camp Harlam about Judaism and music, my passions for both were renewed, and I learned a bit more about each as well. Who knew that we cover the challah on Shabbat because, in order to say Hamotzi, we have to pretend that we didn’t already say Kiddush? Even as a staff member, I had my own opportunities to have Torah study and learn from Jewish professionals about possible future careers. Now I’m more excited than ever to bring back new melodies, insight, and energy for all of our First Fridays – and I have plenty of new repertoire for Gan Katan, too.
Jordan Goldstein '18
My Summer at Coleman
Last summer, I was placed in charge of two groups of ten rambunctious thirteen-year-olds in the middle of rural Cleveland, Georgia. I had the awesome opportunity to be a camp counselor at URJ Camp Coleman. Located near the Appalachian Mountains, Camp Coleman is a Jewish sleep-away camp for 3rd to 10th graders. For both 3 and a half week sessions, I was a cabin counselor for Nachshonim (rising 8th graders). In my bunk, I also had a co-counselor Ian, two Machon (counselors in training), and ten energetic campers. My main job was to watch over them throughout the day and make they went to bed at a “reasonable” hour. (I usually resorted to telling them funny stories instead.) During the day, we did tons of fun activities with the campers, such as biking, Jewish cooking, rock climbing, playing ultimate Frisbee. I had an awesome experience at Coleman, and I will always look back on the experience with a smile.
Keith Denning '18
Thirteen years ago, I waved goodbye to my parents at the bus stop and started what became one of the greatest experiences of my life. Sure, it was awkward when my school friends were making plans for the summer and I had to explain that I would be spending 7 weeks in the West Virginia wilderness, but it was always worth it.
Emma Kaufmann Camp is a Jewish sleep away camp right off of Cheat Lake in Morgantown, West Virginia and it is where I became who I am today. I got to eat, drink, swim, climb, horse-back ride, water-ski, sing, and pray with what became friends for life. For me, there was no other place on earth where I could challenge myself every day and grow as a leader and friend. Each summer, I tossed my cell phone in a drawer and headed for the next “best summer ever”.
As a child, I was able to find some of my greatest role models through the amazing counselors and staff that took care of me. Each year, some of the best staff members were honored with a captainship for the annual Maccabi Color War, where the camp was split into teams by color to decide some pressing issue. I idolized these staff members and was able to learn what made a great leader from a very young age.
I had dreamed about being one of these leaders since I was six-years-old and this past summer my dream came true. I watched little kids look up to me like I had once looked up to my greatest role models. For me, Jewish summer camp was about discovering who I was (away from home) and then having the amazing opportunity to have an effect on the next generation of kids. I would not be who I am today without my time at camp, and I would not trade my experience for anything.