By: Rachel Stern, guest faculty member & ISJL Director of Education
I’ve been coming to Smith Lane since 1980. As a GFC old timer, I am often asked how the camp has changed over the years. With each tour I give, pointing out to kids and adults alike where the original buildings were and what life was like in the beginning days of camp, I am filled with my memories of being a camper and what this magical place has meant to me and to my family.
I am filled with pride to see the camp grow and change. I see campers zip lining over the grass where the original pool was, I see roller skating in the space where the entire camp used to fit for programs. I see bike riding, arts and crafts and even fencing in the old dining hall. I see the old lake that no one used, now as a main attraction housing some of the most popular activities. More amazing though are the new buildings: eco-domes instead of the tents on kibbutz, a state of the art sports facility replacing the cracked old basketball court and a dining hall that can fit every camper and staff member.
My week at camp I do a lot of watching. I want to catch every transformative moment around me. I want to see campers do something new. I want to witness friendships form that I know will last a lifetime. I want to see leaders emerge and new talents and hobbies discovered. Returning to camp as an adult is such a privilege for me because as I witness all of the camp magic that surrounds me, I also revisit the experiences and feelings I encountered here as a camper. Regardless of how the physical spaces of camp have changed, what remains the same are the memories and moments that each of the spaces houses for those who are lucky enough to call GFC home.