By Dan Merer
Alongside two fellow Harlam leaders I had the pleasure of visiting two camps this past week. One was affiliated with the conservative movement and the other was a privately owned Jewish camp. These two places could not have been more different from each other. I spent much of my day observing their programs, talking with staff (professional and seasonal), and doing a whole lot of thinking.
I was thinking about what these two places do compared to what we do at Harlam. What was working for them? What wasn’t? Are we at Harlam better than they are? Are they better than us? There was however, a moment that brought all these questions to a screeching halt. While standing in the back of morning shacharit services at our first stop I realized something. I had the same feeling while talking to campers at our second visit. These campers are no different than the ones that chose to spend their summers at Harlam. It was very clear that camp was changing who they are as people and that change was definitely for the better.
The bottom line is that camp works. It’s strange to think that a child growing up at Harlam will grow into a different person than those at other camps and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There was such spirit flowing through these camps. The kids were smiling and the staff was amazing. They share the same love for camp that I and countless others that have gone through Harlam have. Sure, these campers come from different backgrounds, means, and religious tendencies but their smiling faces were the same ones that I see every day in Kunkletown. “Camp” is amazing and it will continue being amazing for all time. There is no way to argue that fact. Kids are kids, and camp most surely works.