Thank you. When I stepped out of the car ten years ago, almost to this day, I had no idea that you would become a crucial part of my life. I don't think I would want to be a rabbi or have ended up at Brandeis if I hadn't come to camp. Camp was where I fell in love with Judaism and with prayer, two things that are incredibly crucial to my rabbinic aspirations. I had no idea that the counselors who I would meet would become my role models. These counselors would teach me how to take care of myself, how to make friendship bracelets, and most of all, they would inspire me to want to become a rabbi. They would sit with me while I cried and hug me when I was successful in some endeavor whether that be passing my lifeguarding test in Chalutzim or finishing my hiking trip in Moshavah. Those counselors made me want to be a counselor, as I will be beginning next week. They made me strong and determined and perseverant, and a good friend. We do truly share a "bond forever more."
As I constructed my scrapbook over the last few weeks(see last week's blog post for more about this project specifically), I realized how important camp has been to me. From the first year with our cabin night at Jerry's to pranking Mosh during my Chalutzim summer to being welcomed into Tiferet as a Machon, I treasure every single memory that remains in my mind. From Music Studio to Songleading Sicha, I have learned so much, and I truly couldn't be more grateful. The friends I made at camp remain some of the closest people in my life to this day. Who would have thought that one of my friends from A Capella Chug in Moshavah would end up three doors down from me on my freshman hall, and that we would become very close friends? Summers may not be able to be stretched out all year, but the relationships that I created during them. Those relationships are some of the most rewarding and wonderful ones in my life to this day.
At camp, I found a place where I could be myself away from all of the pressures and complications of being home, and I can't thank you enough for that. Thank you for providing me room to grow and to make mistakes and picking me up when I fall down. Thank you for challenging me and laughing and crying with me. The incredible thing is that ten years after that first day, I still get obsessive over what I'm going to pack and I still get goosebumps when I watch camp videos(and recognize the voices of my former song leaders even though I cannot see their faces). The magic of that first year never faded for me. The last night of camp, every single year, there were tears streaming down my face without fail. I still look forward to all-camp events( but I am thankful that Tiferet usually gets to where black because I own very few other colors). My face still lights up when I think about the summer. Surprisingly, even though I now go to a college that is very much like camp, I still have pangs of missing it when we sing a song or talk about something that reminds me of OSRUI. I truly couldn't be more grateful to call OSRUI my home. Shalom Union Institute, Shalom.