By Kyler Moor
On the morning of Monday, June 6th I threw my belongings into my red Chevy Aveo, put on some funky fresh jams, and made my way down the winding Pennsylvania roads to beautiful Camp Harlam.
Now, before I get much further into what I’m about to tell you, I have a couple confessions to make. First, I had never been to Camp Harlam as a camper or as a staff member. It was an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Second, I’m not Jewish. My greatest fear was that I would be labeled an outsider and ostracized by all the camp veterans. I was afraid, as I’m sure many others have been when they first pull through our gates, of not fitting in.
The sun shone brightly on the peaks of the Pocono Mountains dispelling some of my nervous energy and eager anticipation for the weeks to come. It was a lovely day to begin a new adventure; the exciting next chapter of the book that is my life.
I turned onto Koch Road, two miles from the Harlam gates, when I felt the familiar rumble accompanying a popped front tire. Great, I thought, just what I needed. I was going to be late on my very first day of camp—not a good precedent to set for the summer.
Luckily within a few minutes two very respectable gentlemen were able to stop to help me change my tire. They even called the camp office to say we’d be running a few minutes late, then followed behind me to make sure I was able to make it without any further complications.
We pulled up to the Welcome Center where a stranger hugged me almost immediately and said, “Welcome home”. At the time, it sounded silly to me. What did they mean welcome home? This place wasn’t my home. I just left home. In fact, Camp Harlam is exactly 563 miles away from my cozy apartment in South Broad Ripple, Indianapolis.
Throughout the next week, I heard that same greeting offered up again and again. Almost everyone said it. Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home. Either a lot of people were very confused or there was something I wasn’t getting. And as it turned out, the latter was true.
Since arriving at camp I have made more friends than I had in a year of living in Indiana. Whether it be the young woman who took the time to explain what the Hebrew words meant during services or the gregarious professional staff encouraging and inspiring me to be the best that I can be, every single person at Camp Harlam has been extremely hospitable and kind. Never before have I felt more comfortable and included, especially considering the short amount of time I’ve been here.
This place may be far away from my house. It may not have central heating or air conditioning. A lot of things may be new, sometimes even a little scary, and I may be pushed outside of my comfort zone from time to time. Each of these things may be true, but make no mistake, my friends: I am home.
Kyler Moor is the Communications Supervisor for the summer of 2016.