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Jared London: Little Moments, Big Impact

Hey everyone! I am Jared, Camp Chi’s new Program Coordinator. I grew up in the North Shore attending Camp Chi every summer since 2007. This upcoming summer will be my 15th spent at my home away from home. I could not be happier to work my dream job at Camp and to continue working with the Chicago Jewish Community! I have known this is what I wanted to do for most of my life, and I am excited to share with you the story of the moment that started this dream.

Jared London 1

Back in 2010 I was heading to my fourth summer away at camp as an incoming 7th grader. I had spent the previous three summers enjoying every single second of camp, but for some reason my fourth summer did not start off the way I had expected. I was terribly homesick. To this day I could not tell you why I was homesick, but that feeling was completely dominating my camp experience for the first few days. One night towards the end of the first week I told my counselor Jake that I wanted to go home. He did not say very much, and I went to sleep. At some point after I had fallen asleep Jake woke me up, and the only words he said to me were “grab your pillow and blanket…” I followed him out to the porch, and we continued walking to a place in camp called the commons. During the day the commons don’t look like much, it’s really just a slab of concrete towards the back of camp, there are a couple basketball hoops, a gaga pit, but this slab of concrete is now my favorite place in the world because of what happens next. Jake laid his pillow and blanket down and I did the same. He did not try to convince me to stay at camp, he just told me to look up at the stars. I looked up and was genuinely taken back by how incredible the night sky looked. The commons which are fairly underwhelming during the day, became the most amazing place at night. The treetops create a perfect circle with a crystal-clear night sky in the middle. We sat there for a while and stargazed, Jake pointed out a perfect view of the big dipper and then played the song Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright Version) on his speaker. I even saw a shooting star. We got up, went back to the cabin and I went back to sleep. That next morning, I woke up and on my pillow was one of the bandanas Jake wore almost daily. He tied it on my head and gave me a fist bump. I was never homesick again. Jake took 20 or 30 minutes out of his night to change my life forever. The commons became my favorite place, stargazing my favorite activity, I wear a bandanna every day at camp, and I still listen to hallelujah every night before I go to sleep. I am convinced that without that night, I would not be where I am today. From that point forward, I never wanted to spend another summer not at Camp Chi. I went on to be counselor, unit head, and now a member of the full-time team as Program Coordinator. 

Jared London 2

I think this is a great story given our current climate. You never know when someone is going through a rough patch, and a small (or big) act of kindness can have such a huge impact. I am so excited to be in a position where I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on my camp and the greater Jewish Community.

Jared London is the Program Coordinator at JCC Camp Chi. He also runs Chi Town Connection (CTC) JCC Chicago and Camp Chi’s year-round program for teens in 8th-11th grade. He is extremely passionate about Camp and Teen Programming and the impact they can have.