Written by Morris, almost 19, September 10, 2007:
For the majority of incoming college freshman, the year’s
first semester proves to be the only extended time away from home
in a totally different environment. I was lucky enough to get that
out of the way early on by attending out of state sleep away camps.
I spent a total of four summers at camp, two in North Carolina and
the other two summers in upstate New York. Both camps were under
the same umbrella organization, Young Judaea sponsored by Hadassah,
and each had different features and landscapes yet emphasized the
same lessons in leadership, tolerance, preservation of the Earth,
Camp will always hold a special place in my heart, for one it helped
me better understand people and their tendencies. Being an only
child, I was excited to experience living with 20 other individuals
in the same cabin. The new living situation helped me realize that
whatever dramatics you are dealing with, someone else has gotten
through the exact same problem or something very similar to it.
And if you meet someone who is having trouble with something you’ve
dealt with yourself you can help them find the solution. Living
with 20 other people also strengthened my belief that no matter
what activity, sport, or skill there will always be someone better
than you and there will always be someone worse. It’s truly
a very humbling realization.
Another reason why camp is so meaningful to me to this day is that
even though individualism is nurtured and advocated there, they
taught me what can be accomplished when everyone works towards the
same goal. For instance in the 2005 summer my entire age group took
a trip to our capital, Washington D.C., where we lobbied on Capital
Hill for progressive actions to be made by the U.S. in Darfur to
slow down and eventually stop the displacement and genocide of the
innocent people there. We also lobbied to motivate the U.S. to take
either political or military action against the terrorist organization
Hezbollah in Lebanon for their unprovoked attacks in northern Israel.
Even though neither issue has seemed to progress, it’s still
important to remind the government that they are there for the people
and not the other way around.
Growing up in Miami where the land is flat and water is all around,
I especially appreciated the change in scenery when I went to camp.
Camp is so meaningful to me because it is where I first got to hike
mountains, raft in rivers, and be surrounded by wilderness. It showed
me how beautiful our country is and how majestic mother nature can
be. A picture is worth a thousand words but seeing mountains all
around you and deer grazing in the dewy early morning grass is worth
Camp has taught me to accept others for who they are and learn from
them, to work together for a worthy cause, and it has strengthened
my connection with nature. I wouldn’t trade my experience
with sleep away camp for anything in the world.