By Maddy Gold
As 2018 ends, I find myself reflecting on many summers at URJ Camp Harlam and counting the days until the summer of 2019. I invite you to reflect on your personal connection to Harlam, and at the same time I want to let you know how much your investment in Harlam means to all the campers, lay leaders, and staff.
I was a first-year counselor this past summer, leading many campers as they began their unique journey through Harlam’s endless opportunities. Experiencing Harlam through the eyes, ears, and emotions of my Carmel campers (our unit for rising 3rd- and 4th-graders) was an enlightening gift. It was inspiring, humbling, and empowering to watch them develop friendships, independence, creativity, courage, trust, and a personal love for Judaism.
At the first Adventure period of the summer, my girls were tasked with climbing the Wall. As I harnessed one of my campers for her first climb, she confessed that she was scared. Her bunkmates cheered her on as she successfully climbed halfway to the top. A few weeks later, my girls were once again faced with the same task. This same camper excitedly told me that she wasn’t scared anymore because of the support of her friends and how safe she feels at Harlam. This time she made it to the top of the Wall, while her bunkmates cheered from below. Watching my camper overcome her fear and feel the love that Harlam has to offer is a something that defines what it is like to be a part of the encouraging and supportive Harlam family.
For many of our campers and staff, the high point of each week is Shabbat. It begins with getting dressed up in white and walking as a community to Chapel on the Hill for camper-led services. Leading Shabbat services allows campers to celebrate a meaningful Jewish experience, embrace the support of their Jewish community, and challenge their fears. One of my young campers volunteered to give a speech when it was her unit’s turn to lead, after being inspired by the older kids speaking at services. She was nervous, but with two friends to hold her hands and the support of the Harlam community, she gave a beautiful speech to more than 850 people.
I encourage you to make a gift to our Harlam@60 campaign before the end of 2018 to ensure that Harlam can continue to grow and improve and ensure that moments like these will sustain. Harlam is a special place where children are encouraged to challenge themselves, make lasting connections, and develop into confident members of a true community. It’s a place where an 8-year-old gets up in front of 850 people to speak and where a 9-year-old pushes herself to the top of the Wall with the help of her peers. Harlam has so much to offer. With your help, Harlam will be able to provide many more amazing experiences each year.
Maddy Gold was a first-year cabin counselor in the summer of 2018. She is currently a freshman at Binghamton University.