George Got Me Here! George Follows Me Everywhere!

Despite the years that I have spent away from Camp George, I will never forget the memories that I have from my many summers up in Parry Sound. The experiences that I had—both great and small—shaped the person who I am today and served as critical moments in my own personal development. zach then I remember the first time that I had set foot in the Chadar Ochel (dining room). It was several weeks before camp had opened for its very first summer in 1999. As I stepped outside for the dedication ceremony, I recall the blue sky and bright sun that shone on the dozens of families that arrived to visit the site that would soon become a landmark for Canada’s Reform Jewish community in years to come. Although the buildings featured desperate need for renovation and rejuvenation, the place was glowing from the nachas (pride) and ruach (spirit) that emanated from our first director, Jack Feldman, the camp chair, Sam Reisman, and the many others who poured blood, sweat, and tears into making Camp George a reality. Between then and my arrival as a camper that summer, not much had changed. The weather was beautiful, but the camp still needed some love and care. I remember stepping off the bus and loading my enormous duffle bags into the front room of the Blue Dorms. The cramped space and funny smell still resonate with me today. But at the time, it did not matter much because the enthusiasm of the new arrivals, the kindness of my counsellors, and the passion beaming from the professional and lay-staff brought the place to life. From this fleeting experience, I learned that life is ultimately what you make of it. Despite my own reservations with my newfound living experience at camp, I discovered just how important it was to immerse myself fully in the opportunity at hand. I craved Shabbat song sessions (super-spesh song seshes), yearned for puddle-jumping in the pouring rain, and longed for my turn to climb to the top of the ropes course, so that I, too, could see camp from sky-high. And along the way, I developed relationships with those who I am blessed to call lifelong friends. This is but one way in which Camp George left a lasting impact on my life. It spring-boarded my involvement in the greater Jewish community. It gave me the confidence and will to aspire to leadership positions during my university career. And it is, without a doubt, partially responsible for the inspiration that led me to pack my bags and leave home this September to spend time abroad learning new languages, meeting new people, and exploring the world on my own. zach 2 For me, this is the essence of Camp George. In many ways, it is what got me to where I am today. And for this, I am forever grateful.   Zach Newburgh is a teacher and consultant in Madrid, Spain. Zach graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in Middle East Studies (Honours) and Islamic Studies where he had the privilege of serving as the president of its student union in his senior year. Zach has also served in various capacities in the Jewish community, including as the president of Hillel Montreal and the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the youth arm of the Union for Reform Judaism.  In his spare time, Zach enjoys traveling the world, learning new languages, and meeting new people.

 

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