By Emily Nestel
When I first sat down to write this blog post, I was struggling with what to write about. How would I summarize an entire summer as the Carmel Assistant Unit Head in just a few short paragraphs? So, as I frequently do when I get writers block, I shut my laptop and took a lap around the Harlam office to find some inspiration. I ended up in Ellie Tepper’s office to steal a quick Hershey Kiss to strike up some chocolate fueled creativity. As I turned to exit, I noticed on her wall was the sign that Aaron and I had made during staff week seven weeks prior. The workshop was designed for the Unit leaders to create a Brit Kehillah, which in English translates to a contract, that outlined what we would dedicate ourselves to this Summer. While other units wrote out bulleted lists of their commitments to being solution focused or holding each other accountable, our Brit looks a bit different. It is on a piece of pink construction paper covered in Peppa Pig stickers with one simple phrase written on it: Goofy, Growthy, Fun.
That’s when it occurred to me that the unit of Carmel can truly be summed up as a group of extremely goofy, growth fostering, and fun staff and campers. Despite our campers being rising third and fourth graders, they have helped me grow in more ways than I can count. They have shown me what it means to be completely selfless when a camper gives their last cookie to a homesick friend because they know it will make them smile or what true perseverance looks like when they overcome their fear of heights and go to the top of the swing. But more than that, they have demonstrated that growth and fun can be intertwined. Trying a new food, going firefly catching, cheering on their friends performing in the camp play, or even hosting a tooth brush wedding in the bunk all display growth in their own unique way and are without fail always followed with a smile. Prior to this summer, I associated individual development with having to overcome a challenge. However, what I have learned from being in Carmel is that growth doesn’t always have to accompanied by a hardship but is made up of the little moments everyday of laughter, funny faces, card games, and blossoming friendships. I am truly grateful to bring my newfound Goofy, Growthy, Fun mindset to other facets of my life outside of camp and I hope that our campers continue to let it shine through in everything that they do.
Emily Nestel from Bethesda, MD. She is a junior at Tulane University where she is studying Psychology, Early Childhood Education, and Cognitive Studies. This summer is her 12th year at Harlam.