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Jewish Life at Camp Harlam

By Michael “Mikey” Mitgang

I truly believe that Jewish Life at camp pushes us to be the best versions of ourselves. The faculty programming is split into two different sections: Limmud (focused on biblical stories) and Israel (focused on Israel education). Most of these programs are connected to Harlam’s Tikkun Middot that the campers and staff try to find themselves showing throughout camp. These Tikkun Middot include: Tiferet (finding inner beauty), Simcha (finding joy), Acharayut (thinking about others), Nitzachon (pushing through a challenge), Rachamim (acting with your heart), Bitachon Atzmi (confidence and independence), and Binah (seeking meaning). These Tikkun Middot help us be on the path of becoming our best selves at camp as well as in the outside world. They push us to grow and learn from our mistakes and challenges.

This summer we pushed our Tikkun Middot bracelet initiative where campers and staff received bracelets with one Middot engraved into it if they exemplified that said Middot. This initiative motivated our campers and staff to be models of these Middot and not only want all seven bracelets.

Camp is a safe place to practice all of these Middot. It’s a place that helps us turn our challenges into successes and learning opportunities. Camp is the place to fall down and learn new ways on how to get back up and stand taller and even stronger than before. Camp is where you find yourself—your BEST self.

As being in a new role this summer, I find myself smiling at the special Jewish moments. I smile when I see kids swaying back and forth during V’shamru at Saturday morning T’fillah. I smile at Shabbat Song Session. I smile when campers come up to me and call me “Shigaon Man”. I smile because I know these things bring joy to the campers. I love watching campers make memories that last a life time. These memories are the finished product of what camp should be and the Tikkun Middot push us to create those lasting memories.

Michael Mitgang is from Pocono Pines, PA. He will be a Junior at Indiana University majoring in Jewish Studies with a certificate in the Liberal Arts and Management Program. At school, he is a member of the A-Team, which provides prospective students with a tour of campus. This is his 12th summer at camp! 

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