By Jon Schulman
Camp Harlam Operations Manager
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend the first of our four international hiring trips for the summer of 2018. I spent a weekend in Puebla, Mexico, hiring staff to work in our kitchen this summer. When I walked out of the elevator, I was greeted by about 130 Mexican students who wanted nothing more than to spend their summer working at a summer camp. They were excited and nervous to meet with the eight or so camps that were at the fair. As the hiring fair started, I was blown away by interview after interview of young Mexican students sharing their stories and why they want to work at a summer camp. I spoke to vibrant and excited university students who were studying medicine, graphic design, English, marketing, tourism, and much more. I have the responsibility to decide on the spot if I would like to hire them to come work at Harlam for the summer. As I made those decisions and told them that I was hiring them, I was met with unbridled exuberance and overwhelming gratitude. They were just so happy that I chose them to come work at Harlam. After each hire I gave them some Harlam swag and told them I will see them this summer. At the end of the fair, I went home with eight new staff members and an excitement that I will see them again in a few short months in Kunkletown, where they will share their culture with the Harlam community.
As we were getting ready to leave, the staff of Camp Leaders (the staffing agency we work with) wanted to give us a gift, a traditional piece of Pueblan art that blew me away. It was a ceramic plate with a beautiful design and it had the name of our camp on it. I was deeply touched that they did this for us. Not only was it beautiful, but it was also incredibly thoughtful of them to pick this piece of traditional art. They were so appreciative that we made the trip to Mexico and they wanted to share some of their culture with us. The plate is now proudly displayed in the Harlam off-season office and is a constant reminder that camp provides an important opportunity to expose the entire Harlam community to the numerous cultures of the staff who work at camp .
Last week, Assistant Directors Sean Carlin and Rachel Steinberg headed to the United Kingdom to attend five different job fairs to hire more amazing and talented staff to come work at Harlam this summer. They will be looking for talented and exciting people to work mostly in our department areas, but also staff who are going to bring some of their culture with them as well. In early February, Director Lisa David will travel to Israel to hire our vibrant, talented, and eager Israeli staff delegation for the summer. This group of schlichim will bring a tremendous amount of talent and a great desire to teach and share all about Israel with our community. Finally, in mid-February I will head to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to round out our support staff with young students who want to work in a camp and share a little piece of their homelands with us. When all our hiring trips are complete, we will have hired around 80 staff members from nine different countries.
It will be a whirlwind few weeks, but we are so fortunate that we get to be part of such an amazing cultural exchange that everyone in our community will benefit from. We will teach them about life in the United States and Reform Judaism while they teach us about their lives at home and their fascinating cultures. There are so many things about camp to be thankful for and another one to add to the list is that tiny Kunkletown, PA brings together people from all over world to experience the importance and magic of Camp Harlam. In just a few short months we will be together to experience that magic all over again with all types of people and for that I can only say, MUCHO GRACIAS!