Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Camp isn't Just for Campers Part 2: Saying Goodbye to Camp

jhjikhl
First Day of Camp
-->
My last last day of camp was approaching and tears welled up in my eyes every time I thought about saying goodbye to the part of my job that I’ve loved the most. What brought me to this moment? Several months ago, I resigned from my position as the Associate Executive Director at the Siegel JCC in Wilmington, DE. I had been with the agency for almost 12 years and I was ready for a change. Knowing that it would it be a a hard transition for everyone (including myself), I gave four months’ notice.

But as it turned out, the hard part was even harder than I had anticipated.

Part of my job this summer was to help our Interim Camp Director have a successful summer. “No problem” I smirked, as I thought to myself, "I’ll spend the summer outside at camp, play and have fun! I can do that." And that I did. But what I didn't realize was how hard my last, last day of camp would be. The reason I got into the Jewish Communal field was to be a Camp Director so the idea of never being part of camp again was truly the end of an era. In my role as the  Associate Executive Director of my JCC, I was never far from campers singing and cheering, and I could always take a break from what I was doing to go play outside.  This was fate though --  my last summer at the JCC --  and I got to do what I got into this field to do one last time.

As my last week approached,  I thought "what about this am I going to miss the most?" Here is my list:

10. Screaming “Boker Tov Camp!” to all of camp and, in unison, them screaming back “Boker Tov Donna!”

9. Watching a camper pass the deep water test on her last day of camp when she could barely swim on the first day of camp.

8. The amount of enthusiasm campers and counselors have for their team colors during the Maccabi Games.

7. Bringing Israelis to our camp and letting them show campers how amazing Israel is.

6. Watching a group of 11 year old boys not only accept but totally incorporate a boy with Down syndrome into their group.

5. Campers and counselors who will do anything to win the Ruach Stick for the week.

4. All of camp singing the Hatikvah

3. Watching scared campers cry on the first day of camp knowing that 8 weeks from now they will be crying on the last day of camp because they don't want it to end!

2. Hiring counselors who were your campers since Preschool and them being the most amazing staff.

1. Friday afternoon at Shabbat watching the whole camp saying the prayers over candles, wine, and challah and singing Bim Bom.

On Monday morning of my last week of camp, I declared to everyone that I was going to enjoy every moment and fully embrace the last week of camp craziness. In years past, the last week has always been so hectic and I often said "I don't have time to participate in (fill in the blank)".  But I was determined to make this year different as I knew there would not be another opportunity like this. Below is just a sampling of the fun that occurs at Camp JCC on the last week of camp.

Campers pay to Pie the Counselors in the face.  All proceeds go to our Camp Scholarship Fund.
 
We dig a Mud Pit for the Maccabi Games final relay
Shaving Cream Fight on the last day of camp: a Camp JCC tradition!


-->

I'm a true believer in fate -- and this summer was fate.  Ok, well maybe I should thank Jeremy, the previous camp director who moved to Memphis to be the Program Director (thanks Jeremy!) but either way I can't imagine ending my 20 year career in the JCC field any other way.  

My new job as a consultant and a trainer will allow me to still be a part of camp by training staff and consulting on best practices but I'm not sure that will ever include getting into a Mud Pit or having a shaving cream fight.  But hey you never know!  Either way, I will always have my last, last week memories to hold onto.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Donna, you are an amazing woman, and that grows more true every year. Best wishes in your new adventure! warm regards, Kelly Harvey