As I Graduate College, Thank You Ramah for All the Ways I’ve Grown
by Alan Imar
Camp is where I learned how to lead Saturday Shabbat services, play guitar in shirah (song sessions), and sail across the lake. It’s also the place that cultivated fundamental life skills: folding laundry, making a bed, and sweeping the floor. I navigated interpersonal conflict and learned how to be accountable for myself. In short, tzamachti – I grew! – as a person.
As I prepare to graduate college next week, I reflect on how my success in the past four years can be attributed, in part, to my summers at camp. When first I arrived at my college dorm in 2018, I had just finished my first summer on staff. Having been responsible for the health and safety of over a dozen campers a few weeks earlier, it was easy to take care only of myself.
What’s more, every time I needed to sweep the floors or clean the bathroom, make my bed or fold my clothes, I drew on skills that living at camp gave me. I even created a nikayon (cleaning) chart with my junior year apartment-mates — all of whom were Ramahniks — modeled after the charts hanging in every cabin.
This is all to say that, reflecting on my university career, growth (tz’michah) has continuously defined my experience. At the core of this, moreover, was all the growing I did as a camper at Camp Ramah. Having spent summers both as a teenager and adult in Conover made my transition to college smoother. And, as I look forward to what comes next, I hope to draw on my time at camp as a reservoir of fundamental and formative life experiences.
As I get ready to transition to a new role at Ramah Day Camp this summer, I’m grateful for these past experiences and excited for so many more. I know I’ll continue to marvel each summer at the ability of campers to find joy in the most authentic versions of themselves, and for staff to bring joy to campers, campers to staff, campers to campers, staff to staff – every direction. I can’t wait for the joy that kayitz 2022 will bring for all of our community members at both Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and Ramah Day Camp in Chicagoland. And hopefully, our campers and staff will carry that joy with them home from camp and infuse it into their daily lives throughout the year until they return back to their happy place.
Alan will (hopefully) graduate from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary with BAs in History and Talmud & Rabbinics next week. He spent a year at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Next year, he will be spending a year living and studying in Israel. This will be Alan’s 9th summer at camp and first as a Rosh Eidah.