An ode to Jewish sleepaway camp

By Dorothy Isgur

My summers at Jewish sleepaway camp played a significant role in forming the person I am today. I have never given Greene Family Camp its due respect, but now I am going to try.
Thank you for helping me appreciate my Judaism. At home, I attended three-hour services led by a slightly tone-deaf rabbi (sorry, Rabbi Bloom). I never realized how moving, musical and beautiful religion could be.
Thank you for teaching me how to be a mediator. Every summer we fought. In elementary school, we fought about our talent show act. As we got older, we fought about more nuanced issues. Because of you, I learned how to be the voice of both reason and emotion.
Thank you helping me find my voice as a leader — gentle but convincing. After we got in trouble for staying up too late and falling asleep during CPR training the next day, I convinced my entire bunk that we should write our counselor an apology letter. We were in high school and hated authority, but we ended up writing a heartfelt apology, which our counselor accepted.
Thank you for teaching me independence. It can be hard to break away from the nest, but summer camp was a great way for me to practice.
Thank you for allowing me to be my goofy self — the one who would start food fights and prance around the cabin with her clothes on backward.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of acting the same when no one is watching as one would when someone is watching. Even when you think no one is watching, your campers are watching.
But above all, thank you for giving me lifelong friends whom I have continued to lean on throughout my college experience and these unprecedented times.
Although camp is closed this summer, don’t forget about it. As a junior in college, I have now moved on to other things, but I will always remember the 13 summers I spent at GFC as both a camper and counselor.
If you can do one thing to help your children become more thoughtful, kindhearted and free-spirited people in this crazy and unpredictable world, send them to summer camp. You won’t regret it.

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