By Ellie Tepper Schulman
I can tell you exactly where I was eleven years ago today. It was my first summer at Camp Harlam and I was celebrating Shabbat as an Arava Girls 3 cabin counselor. Back then, I probably was sitting in the middle section in the Chapel, getting excited for the transition between Hashkiveinu and V’shamru, and hoping dessert that night was going to be strawberries and whipped cream!
I didn’t grow up at Camp Harlam, like most domestic staff members, but as an active member of NFTY-PAR, most of my friends grew up at camp and convinced me, along with Amanda Wachstein, to spend the summer after my freshman year of college in Kunkletown, PA. That summer, I packed up my plastic drawers to headed to a foreign place where they ate a meal named after a color and buildings with Hebrew names. I was nervous! Would I make new friends? Would I be a good counselor? Would I learn all of the names of the buildings? Could all yellow food really be good together?
That summer was a lot of firsts for me. I made my first official camp friends (shout out to Adam Zemel). I ate my first yellow meal (and obviously loved it). I climbed to the A-Frame of the tower. I comforted my first homesick camper. I canoed in Lake Joshua. I wrote my first alma mater. I even wore my first tutu!
This evening, you have heard our amazing Carmelions talk about challenges they have pushed themselves through. At camp, we have the opportunity to practice the middah, Nizachon through every choice we make. We can choose to go the extra step on the wall or to audition for the camp play. The best part about camp is that it is the safest place to push yourself to your limits. That first summer was amazing, but challenging. I pushed myself harder than I ever had to, but it was more than worth it! Fast-forward to today, and I am still experiencing a whole new batch of firsts, especially in my first year as an Assistant Director. What makes all these “firsts” special, is that the camp community has always been there to support me through them.
As we wrap up the summer of 2018, there may be many challenges on the horizon for you. Our Middot are not just about being your best self at camp but how to be your best self throughout the year. Our Camp Harlam family is always there for each of you through any challenge you may face. My Shabbat blessing is that you push yourself this year to a new limit and come back next summer ready to find a new set of “firsts!”
Ellie Tepper Schulman has been working at Camp Harlam for the last eleven summers but is in her first year, full time, as the Assistant Director. She supervises Junior Camp, Unit Operations, and camp’s vast programs, including all-camp programs, trips, and more! During the year, Ellie lives with her husband, Jon (the Operations Director), in Philadelphia. She loves to bake and is very proud of her collection of 10 tutus!