By Carrie Wainer, OSRUI, NFTY CAR, and NFTY in Israel Alum
With summer quickly approaching, I have many asking me what I will be doing for the next 2 months. Summer is often associated with relaxing on the beach, spending quality time with family, and kicking back with old friends. However, my answer is different. My answer to that question for the past 10 years of my life has been, “going to camp!” Following that statement, the person usually gives me a weird look and says, “Oh is it some kind of Jew camp or something? Why do you go?”
“Yep” I answer with confidence. “And I don’t know why I go….It’s just what I do.”
I started my journey at Jewish sleep away camp at the young age of 9. Forcefully shoved in a minivan packed to the brim, my parents drove me to the rambunctious town of Oconomowoc and said goodbye. As I stood on a patch of grass, unable to see because of the tears clouding my vision, my parents drove off and left me with bags that were bigger than myself and staff members singing, debatable-ly shouting, loudly in my face.
Little did I know that those strangers standing around me, whether they were staff members, campers, Rabbis or educators, were going to be my support system and my best friends for the next 10 years of my life.
With the recent passing of Janet Goldberg, Heather Kornick and Elissa Froman, the Jewish community, in specific the community of OSRUI and NFTY, has truly come together in a support system that is unbreakable. As a long time camper and member of NFTY, my life has been touched by all three of these tremendous women. Whether they baked delicious sweets for us, lead a thought provoking program or simply were just there to listen, they were a part of my Jewish community, and cancer has unfairly taken them away from us.
So back to my original statement of not knowing why I go to Jewish sleep away camp.
I go to camp so that for my most anticipated 9 weeks of the year, I get the privilege of being surrounded by fantastic people that have truly changed my life for the better.
I go to camp so that I have the support system, and get to be a part of the support system, that is impenetrable.
I go to camp so that I get to be part of a community.
The people in this community are ones who look past every materialistic detail of your life and truly love you for who you are, and will forever love you.
May the memory of these women who have recently passed be a blessing, and never be forgotten.
“If we have faith – and not just faith in G-d, but faith in family, faith in each other, faith in ourselves – if we have that, we can live. No matter what has already come.” -Unknown