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Once Upon a Time…

By Ellie Tepper Schulman

Once upon a time, not so long ago,
A camper got packed up and was ready to go.
Off to Camp Harlam in Kunkletown,
They were so excited, all smiles, no frowns.

When they arrived, the counselors all said,
WELCOME HOME, let me show you to your bed!
The cabin was bustling with lots of new faces,
They realized that it can be scary visiting new places.
It didn’t take much time for another camper to say,
“Come with us, we’re going to play!”
They jumped up and down, full of delight,
Practicing seemcha with all of their might.

The next day was adventure, specifically the wall,
In the pictures, it didn’t look that tall!
The counselor reminded them of bitachon atzmi,
With a little bit of courage, you have the ability!
The camper got a helmet and then got strapped in,
After the quick pep talk, it was time to begin.
They got really nervous and started to cry,
Their friends all cheered: come on, you got it, give it a try!
They pushed through the challenge, practicing nitzachon
But not without their friends, they couldn’t do it alone!

As the days went on, things kept getting better,
The camper played Gaga and sometimes wrote letters.
Everyone was together, they practiced achreyiut,
When it came to a game, no one got the boot.
If the camper was sad or having a bad day,
Their friends showed compassion and did not stray away.
Full of rachamim, they acted with compassion,
And helped provide a much-needed distraction.

Living together they realized they were alike and the same,
Even if they differed in size or in name.
With tiferet, they discovered who they are on the inside,
Exclaiming, “I can be myself and I don’t need to hide.”

When it was time for Shabbat, to the Chapel they went,
To a place where meaningful time can be spent.
It was here that the camper found binah,
Looking up to the clouds, soaking it up with awe.
They had learned so much here, in just a few days,
All of the middot that Camp Harlam displays.

When the summer is over and you head back to school,
Remember you’re awesome, you’re loved, and you’re cool!
Your friends here at camp will always have your back
Even when fears or worries attack.
You’ll know you’ll be able to get through it all
By remembering these middot, in ways big and small.
But for now, relax, you’ve been welcomed home –
And may I please wish you a Shabbat Shalom.

Ellie Tepper Schulman has been working at Camp Harlam for the last twelve summers. This is her second summer as an 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 tutu collection!

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