By: Director Jeff Rose
Last week, I joined many of my colleagues and lay leaders from the Jewish camping field, at the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s biannual Leader’s Assembly. It was a remarkable event and I felt fortunate to have been able to share and learn with the best and the brightest that our field can gather.
It was also a great pleasure to have shared this experience with Karen Kollins, our Associate Director and Susie Berg – a new member of the camp’s Steering Committee. Stay tuned for a blog from Susie highlighting some of her experiences!
Participating in conferences like this, alongside lay leaders, is a true privilege. We have a unique opportunity to gather the field and share common challenges as we strategize towards a bright future for Jewish camping.
Of course all of the sessions and plenary sessions were outstanding, but the highlight came for me in the middle of the conference when I received the following excerpt of an email:
“On Jun 25, 2012 you helped facilitate a donor drive in Seguin at URJ Camp George. We are thrilled to inform you that a donor recruited at that drive has been identified as a match for a 62 year old man suffering from Myelodysplastic Disorder. “
Wow. Stunned. Amazed. Proud.
Two summers ago, as part of a North American initiative, Jewish camps were encouraged to bring the Gift of Life organization to hold a bone marrow drive at our camps. Each summer we always engage our staff and camp community in various tikkun olam projects (repairing the world), as this a pillar of Reform Judaism and one of the values that we espouse throughout our camp program – we offered this opportunity to our staff, to participate.
We invited a representative of the organization to come and speak with our staff to explain the need for bone marrow drives and if they were over the age 18, they could participate. Their names would stay in the registry for a very long time. It came as no surprise when the majority of our age eligible staff lined up to do their part.
Two years later, here we are! A member of our community has been identified as a match and has the potential to save another human’s life. One of our staff members (whose identity is anonymous – a true mitzvah), will be contacted by the organization to talk through the process for donation.
To the anonymous donor: thank you for the performing the initial mitzvah of participating in the bone marrow drive – Camp George is grateful for your act of loving kindness. You now have an opportunity of performing another great mitzvah – that which can save the life of another! We know that you will be thoughtful with your decision.
Finally, I often feel like I have the greatest job in the world. There are so many moments and experiences where I see the very best of humanity, both at camp and beyond. I have noted that while I have had many opportunities to be proud of our camp community – nothing makes me prouder than when we are at our best showcasing ourselves as a caring community supporting people and causes around the world. I am grateful to our community. Kol Hakavod Camp George!