Happy Camper for Life
Did you know that I hated summer camp? Yes, it’s true! The summer was 1974 and my mom put me on the camp bus kicking and screaming. This was a daily occurrence until she made the decision to pull me from the first camp program I was enrolled in. Shocking, I know! Anyone who has known me over the past 22 years know that I live for summer camp.
Since I joined the JCC “Z” Frank Apachi staff as a counselor, I have looked forward to waking up each morning putting on my camp t-shirt, shorts, SPF 50 sunscreen and heading off to work. I feel grateful to be working in a job that often doesn’t feel like work and here are a few of the reasons why.
Working for a Jewish organization helps me feel connected both spiritually and Jewishly. Shabbat at camp is my most favorite part of the week. I love the smell of the challah. I love singing all the camp Shabbat songs and listening to the campers with their camp ruach (spirit). I love watching the campers and counselors put their arms around each other as they sing The Hope. Helping to foster this Jewish pride and identity in campers and staff is one of the most important parts about our work.
I get to soak in the summer. I love being outside each and every day. I love that I have the opportunity to play outside in the summer sun! Not to mention, the daily steps that I get on my walking the 10 acres of the “Z” Frank Apachi grounds!
I’m fortunate to see our day camp team’s incredible ideas come to life. All year long we meet to dream up amazing summer experiences. Our world is all about 10 for 2—as we spend most months of the year planning for summer and setting the foundation to flawlessly execute our creative programs. Then, before we know it, summer is upon us. For 39 magical days we get to enjoy watching our campers participate in these dreams.
I love the relationships that unfold every summer. My favorite camp groups are the ones made of new faces—where kids meet and make their own new friends here at camp. Parents are so sure children need to be in a group filled with kids they know. It’s far more impactful for the campers to establish connections on their own. It’s equally rewarding to see the staff members unite and form lasting friendships and lifelong connections with each other.
Last but not least, I love the way summer at J Camps changes all of us. The tone and atmosphere we set at each of our camps allow campers and staff to feel comfortable from the start. This summer I hit the pinnacle because two of these staff were my own kids. I had many moments when I remembered them as young campers—starting out as new campers, acclimating each summer, growing and bonding with their friends and counselors, learning to swim and try all sorts or camp activities, becoming counselors-in-training and even go off to Camp Chi. This summer, I watched their J Camp journey come full circle and watched them give back to their campers the way their counselors had so many times done for them.
Seeing tens of thousands of camper’s journeys unfold over these past two decades is a blessing for me. It’s crazy to think that the girl who once couldn’t make it through a full summer as a pre-schooler has become one of the happiest campers of all! As we continue to dream big about what this summer will bring, I’ll continue spend my days loving what I am doing.