by Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz, Camp Coleman Alumna
That’s the inscription we put on our dedicatory brick, which is right by Coleman’s Dining Hall – not the same one we ate in way back when, but a newer, bigger and brighter (AIR CONDITIONED) Dining Hall. I grew up at Coleman from 1970ish to 1979. That doesn’t count the years I’ve come back as part of the rabbinic faculty – one of the great perks of being a rabbi. All 3 of my daughters have gone to Coleman, with the oldest, Hannah, attending even longer than I – she was the Kesher Programmer this past summer after being a counselor for 2 years.
I smiled as I just read her latest blog entry from a Zulu Village in South Africa, where she’s studying Community Health for a semester. She writes about her Home Stay experience with a Zulu family, in a neighborhood with “tons and tons” of little kids: “My most valuable asset is definitely my Coleman experience, and I’ve been feeling a lot like a camp counselor with tons of campers who only half speaking your language but are more than willing to laugh at you and with you about how clueless you are.” It’s good to know those counselor skills come in handy, no matter where you are.
Throughout my life, I have drawn upon my Coleman experience – never in a Zulu Village – but no matter where I have been, those early experiences at Coleman grounded me in my sense of self. Looking back, it’s fair to say that my soul was born in the Hillman Chapel, my earliest friendships formed over campfires and raucous song sessions, and my passion for Judaism was kindled amidst the pebbles and trees of the Georgia mountains.
They say you can’t go home again, but whenever I get to go to Coleman I’m transported back in time. I climb the old stone steps, smell the Georgia clay, hear the sounds of laughter and song and in a flash, I’m 12 years old and right where I belong. It’s been decades, but I’ve still GOT THAT COLEMAN FEELING ALL OVER ME AND IT’S ALL OVER ME TO STAY!
*Calling all alumni! Want to share your story on our blog? Email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.*