By Jon Schulman
In the summer of 1992, I showed up to camp for my first summer. I was in Carmel Boys B and we lived where K’far Noar lives now. I remember my little area with my blue and white striped comforter and the pink cassette player that my sister gave me to bring to camp. I was ready to go.
On opening day, I was not with my parents because my mom was running the camp office. She spent my first 4 summers at camp managing the office so that my sister and I could go to camp.
My mom is a small lady with a heavy New York accent. If you did a google search for Jewish Mother, her picture would be the first result that came up. She is about 5 feet tall and can have a conversation with anyone. When I go visit my parents, she always makes sure I have enough to eat, that I am happy and that even my laundry is done. If that is not a Jewish mother, I am not sure what is.
During those four summers that my mother ran the Harlam office I learned so much from her. She was the epitome of selflessness. She gave up her summers so my sister and I could have a meaningful and impactful Jewish camp experience. She gave up spending time with my Father so that we could be better off in the long run because she knew the power of camp and the impact it would have on her children. She worked long hours in the camp office so her children could experience the meaning and value of a strong Jewish community. Her inner beauty shined those 4 summers and once she knew her children were hooked on Harlam she gave up the summer office manager position so she could make up for the lost time with my dad. The only tough thing was I had to wait for the camp mail to get the articles from the sports section that she would give me almost every day when she was working at camp.
Now here I am, almost 25 years after my Mom’s last summer at camp and I doing a lot of the same work that she did. I oversee our office staff, but sometimes when I am in the office, I am taken back to those summers where I would hang out in the office while my mom worked. The things I learned from my mom still ring true. I try to be kind to everyone and be as helpful as I possibly can. I try to do my very best to think of others first and I have also been taught through camp the importance of a strong Jewish community.
Our wonderful unit of Carmel has taught us about “Inner Beauty” tonight and as we watch all of you start out on your camp journey I hope you are able to take all the inner beauty you have learned this summer home with you. For me, it’s knowing when I go to bed at night that everyone is safe or watching a group of campers laughing and playing during free swim. Whatever it is for you, I hope you bring it home, share it with your family and bring it back here next summer.
Jon Schulman is the Operations Director at Camp Harlam. It his 19th summer at camp. During the year he lives with his Wife, Ellie (Assistant Director at Camp Harlam) in Philadelphia.