by Emily Singer. Emily is a counselor at Crane Lake Camp and grew up in Newington, CT involved in many aspects of Jewish life including the Temple Sinai Youth Group.
This past summer I had the pleasure of working with beautiful young children in a loving and flourishing community. When I got hired to work at CLC I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew an idea of what it would be like because I was in NFTY Northeast throughout high school and attended Eisner camp for institutes. I never knew that saying yes to a job would make my summer and give me lifelong friendships and memories. Crane Lake is a wonderful camp that allows kids to reflect on their Jewish identities, learn about their religion, experience new activities and have fun in a safe and supportive environment.
Last summer I worked with the lower Nitzanim Unit (3rd-5th grade); an adorable bunch of girls. I attended sleep away camp throughout my childhood at various camps; however none of them were Jewish camps. When I came to Crane Lake I quickly realized that the Jewish aspect brought so much learning and thought to camp. I have always been a very spiritual person who loves services, and I know my campers loved having that every morning and at Shabbat. It gave them a sense of importance to their religion, and a common identity; however it was up to them to complete their own identity. Crane Lake supports all the campers by letting them find what Judaism means to them. When the kids leave camp at the end of the session, they leave as a more confident and knowledgeable Jew. The kids leave camp being proud of their religion, and I think that is a really empowering thing. Watching my girls grow throughout the session spiritually, physically, and mentally was a special and honorable thing. In the beginning of the session, the girls didn’t know each other, but throughout the session they made friendships that will last a lifetime. Not only do the campers become close within their cabin, but different cabins do activities together enabling more friendships.
I also enjoy the variety of activities that are offered. The kids have the option of swimming in a pool or a lake. A few times a week the kids have instructional swimming lessons, and other times they have free swim allowing them to explore and do as they choose. At Crane Lake we believe that giving campers the choice is a good learning experience. There are many sports that are offered and one of my favorite memories with my campers was high ropes and low ropes. During these activities, as a cabin we do many challenges which make the campers think and work together; an essential skill needed in today’s world. I liked these activities because I got to see my campers step up and lead because the counselors step back and watch. It was really interesting to see each camper bring something special to the challenge. As a bunk we would rise to the occasion and complete the task.
Shabbat at camp is a very relaxing and reflective time of the week in which the whole camp comes together on Friday night and has services and Shabbat Dinner. The kids can sit wherever they want, wither with or away from their bunk or their counselors. Shabbat services are very meaningful for everyone because they are different. At the end of the night we have song session when everyone sings songs and dances around the room and it brings the CLC community together. Sharing Shabbat with my campers was special and something that I looked forward to every week.
Overall, working at CLC has given me amazing experiences that words cannot explain, and friendships that are so close knit and unbreakable bonds. Working with my campers has taught me patience, given me confidence, and taught me to be a role model. It really helps me because I want to be a teacher and having the CLC experience has shown me so much about working with kids. I love every person in the CLC community because we are all tied together and at the end of the day we all share something, Judaism. The staff is amazing to work with. I had a life changing summer and I am looking forward to the coming summers.
See you all for CLC summer 2013!