A Place That Feels Like Home
שילוב – Inclusion
By Dena Rosen

Ever since the summer of 2011 when I arrived for my first summer at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, it instantly felt like a home away from home. I have spent years trying to figure out what made Camp Ramah feel so special and I think I have finally landed on it. It is a safe and welcoming place where I can be 100% myself and make genuine, lifelong friendships. There has never been a time at camp where I have felt the need to hide something about myself. As I reflect on my life and my time at camp, there is nowhere else in the world I have felt this way before. So what about Camp Ramah makes me feel this way? This is not an easy question to answer, but the answer is simple. Camp has always made me feel safe and included.

One of the four pillars that Camp Ramah has built its foundation on is שילוב (inclusion). When I try to explain the beauty of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin to someone who has not experienced it for themselves, I always make sure to tell them that camp is a place where people get to come together and create a kehilah (community) where everyone gets to feel welcomed and at home.

A memory that has stuck with me from my time as a camper was in Machon (10th grade) during the girls basketball game against the Nivonot (11th). Basketball is not one of my strongest skills, but I still always felt included and welcomed on the team. During this specific game it was clear we were going to win, so everyone decided it was time to make sure I scored, along with every other player on the team. I can confidently say there is nowhere else in the world I have felt more included and valued than at times like this at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

After my Nivo summer in 2016, I knew my time at camp was not over and that I needed to come back two summers later to be a junior counselor so I could ensure that more campers could have the same enriching experience I had. I wanted to make sure I could uphold camp values and create an inclusive environment for all of my campers. Growing up at camp, the impact my counselors had on me went far beyond the eight weeks I would spend with them and I wanted to be that person for campers who were just near the beginning of their time at camp. After being a Sollelim (7th) counselor for a few summers, it was still clear to me that my time at camp was not complete and there is so much more I need to give back to this community that has brought me so much, so I am excited to continue my journey with Camp Ramah as Rosh Garinim (5th) this summer. 

Dena Rosen is a senior at University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is majoring in Communication Sciences & Disorders with minors in Education & Education Systems and Disability Rights & Services. This will be her 10th summer at camp and her first time as a Rosh Eidah.