Coleman Connection in South Florida

by Andi Solomon, Senior Assistant Director, URJ Camp Coleman

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, it is typical during this time of year to look at the parts of our lives for which we are most grateful.  As I reflect on what is most important to me, I can’t help but think of the relationships in my life.   I naturally hold my personal relationships close to my heart, and while I am very close with my family and all of my friends, there is nothing that can compare to the connection I have with my friends from summer camp. Even as an adult, my camp friends are still among the closest people in my life.  I often have flashbacks of jumping off the dock into the lake, creating a cabin plaque in arts and crafts, cookouts, Friday Night services dressed all in white, hoping that our favorite cookies will be served for snack, or simply walking together along the dirt road.

As I grew too old to be a camper, I was still not ready to move on from my summer experiences at camp.  I decided to continue to work at camp as a counselor, specialist and eventually unit head. I continued spending my summers at camp throughout college and after as I began to teach at a Jewish Day School during the year.  Seeing camp from the staff perspective only confirmed my feeling that there is no place like camp.  I was overjoyed to be able to help create the magical camp experience for new campers each summer.  This is why I was thrilled, during the summer of 2008, to become the Assistant Director of URJ Camp Coleman where I have been ever since.

Now I enjoy spending my year crafting a vision for what the summer should look like and doing everything in my power to make sure that each camper has an experience that is as unforgettable as mine was.  Every summer I am able to watch Jewish children from all over the Southeast create friendships and bonds that I am confident will stay with them for a lifetime.

Last year I was given the opportunity to open a Camp Coleman office at Temple Beth Am in Miami, in order to serve the South Florida community to our greatest ability.  It is my intention to build a bridge between the South Florida temple communities and Camp Coleman in the hopes that every Jewish child will be able to experience Jewish summer camp and be able to look back on their experience with as much appreciation as I have for mine. At this point in the year I give thanks for the opportunity that my position at camp has afforded me and hope that all campers find the friendships that are as enduring as the ones I share.

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