Waking up two hours earlier than normal to drive three hours is not often the start of a great day at work. However, last week my co-worker Sam and I did just that and spent an amazing day with the teens at JCC Camp Chi. The ride went by quickly and before we knew it we had reached the camp gate, the same gate that granted me entry to my home away from home for twelve summers. I felt like I was in a weird, wonderful time warp. Even though there were only a handful of people there from my own camp days, it was clear to me that the campers are still having ruach (spirit) filled summers and making memories like the ones that I deeply cherish.
The week prior, I had the pleasure of visiting Beber Camp. What was amazing about this visit was unlike JCC Camp Chi, I didn’t walk in with my own history in that space or community. None the less, I felt almost as if I could see joy and comradery the campers were experiencing by spending their summer immersed in a community rooted in Jewish values.
One of the perks of my job is getting to see these amazing summer camp programs in action and apparently, I am not the only one who enjoys this element of Jewish professional work. I enjoyed reading Lonnie Nasatir’s reflections on visiting camps and how he sees his own camp experience relevant in his work as JUF President. As someone who often finds themselves sitting across from a teen who is facing the difficult decision of participating in a staff-in-training program at a summer camp or getting a “real job,” I am thrilled to be able to point to Lonnie as an example of someone who truly sees the value in the important skills camp nurtures.
Sadly, I have no more camp visit scheduled for this summer, but t I look forward to hearing about all the amazing adventures Chicago area teens are having in day and overnight camp programs this summer.
Brittany Abramowicz Cahan is the Assistant Director of Springboard. She has spent 20 summers at camps including JCC Camp Chi, Camp Ramah Wisconsin, Habonim Dror Camp Tavor and Camp Mountain Chai. Brittany credits her fire building abilities, tie-dye expertise and creative problem-solving skills all to her camp days. She loves to meet with teens and families to hear about their experiences at camp and help them find programs throughout the year the offer the camp essence.
We’d love to feature your favorite camp memory on the Springboard Blog email Springboard@juf.org if you would like to contribute.