By Cori Miller
Time is a funny thing here at camp. I often realize that I know not the date, that I have to take a moment to even remember the day. I recognize that a moment can turn into hours and often, at the end of the day, I struggle to imagine it possible that this was but one day. Days are long, for all of us, and a lot happens here. And sometimes, days run into each other.
I take pause to imagine it possible that the group of Sharon campers that did their talent show routine danced at S’morning just yesterday morning. That watching some amazing K’Far counselors run an evening program while listening in awe and amazement at the thoughtfulness and brilliance of the K’Far campers’ responses, was 2 weeks ago. That a difficult conversation with a small group of Chavurah campers where I saw first hand the deepness of friendships and level of support that our oldest of campers take on to be a good friend, was just this morning.
Our time here at camp is ours. And what we do with that time and how we embrace this awesome opportunity is left to each of us to decide. It’s personal, and there truly is no right or wrong. But I hope, that for many of you sitting in this beautiful setting tonight, with a slight wind blowing, with the setting of the sun in the near future, among friends new and old, those we have deep connections with and those that could develop in the future, that as many of us as could be, consider the possibility that using our time here to be remembered for our strengths and empathy, and not for flaws or weaknesses, is what matters most. If we use our time here well, valuing what we share and how we share it, valuing what we hear and how we receive it, then we will know that the mark we have all made on this community will withstand the test of time.
Something I uttered earlier today is that we only know but a small part of someone’s story. It’s a tough thing to reconcile. It’s hard to wrestle with realizing that we sometimes only know a small piece about one another. Sometimes that’s true even of people we have deep connections with, which is even harder to reconcile. That is because we are each in charge of our stories; they’re ours to tell. But stories are our connectors. Without them, you might not know all you share with another person, maybe even the person next to you. And I’m not talking about big disclosures. For instance, without a conversation, I wouldn’t have known for example that Alyssa and I each end difficult days sometimes eating pretzels sitting on a bed in pajamas at the wee hours of the morning. Or that there is a Kineret camper that can without a doubt name and knows the lyrics to more Beatles song that I can. It’s quite impressive!
What I do know is that people get through challenging life circumstances when they feel connected. And I know that we are a community. And I know that these camp grounds and this place to many is a safe haven free of the challenges that present more often or more readily outside of this sacred place. I hope that while as a community, we know we aren’t always aligned on everything, that we share a common desire to protect this space and make sure people leave here feeling better about who they are, feeling connected to more people that when they arrived, and that our stories, our spoken words, connect us. I hope that nobody here wants to play a role in becoming a part of someone’s painful story of exclusion. I hope we care about radical acceptance here. I hope that on this Shabbat, and for the remaining days at camp, that we all treat others well, that we all are treated well, that you care for others, and that others care for you. That you share your stories and hear what others have to say, and that when camp is over, and time passes, that you look back on your summer and feel good about what you added to this community to make it more special.
This time, this Shabbat, this camp experience of First Session of the Summer of 2019 is our collective history; it’s something that cannot be replicated or redone, when we should use our time wisely and choose our words kindly. And I hope that as we share this time together we all feel a part of it, and I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom.
Cori Miller is Head of our Camper Care Department. She lives in Amber, PA with her husband, 2 children and her dog. Cori treasures time with family and friends, plays piano and tennis, enjoys making mosaics.