By Brett Goldenhorn, Assistant Director
One of my favorite stories in life is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. In the story, the main character is asked if he would try a new food. The dish was in the title, green eggs and ham – a combo for the ages. Once you get past the fact that the cuisine doesn’t prove to be as kosher as we all would like, you can really start to learn from this story. The only other character in the book, Sam, spends page after page pushing his friend to try this delicious treat and his friend just says, “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am.” These words are so famous for a reason. These words help teach the important lesson that you don’t know if you like something until you try it.” Well, that couldn’t be much more relevant than right now in camp.
On June 12th, staff from all over the world arrived to begin preparing for Camp Harlam’s summer of 2013. Since, we have had 4 other arrival days for staff. It has been great to see our staff grow from eight to 15 to 35 to 75 to now over 120 staff members here to better the lives of our campers. What are we asking them to do? We are asking our staff members to push our campers outside their comfort zone to try new things and have experiences that they can’t have anywhere else, all while ensuring our campers are safe, healthy and having the time of their life. In order to do that, the staff must be able to do the same. Whether they are long-time campers who are just coming back home, or staff members that are in the United States for the very first time, each year on staff is filled with new and even uncomfortable experiences, just like a camper would have. We teach new songs and share new traditions with folks who are familiar and unfamiliar with our camp culture.
Our staff train to perform their jobs better than we performed in summers past and bring new and exciting ideas to programs that are already great! Our Jewish life staff have been charged with the task of changing the way we look at education here at camp by infusing Jewish life into our every day programming here at camp. Adventure is tackling the new Ropes Course, adding another element to our ever-changing Adventure program. Waterfront took their first boating trip yesterday, a dry run for the newest out of camp trip program that will begin in just a few weeks. Athletics has learned about our five middot (values) that they will be highlighting throughout this summer of clinics. Teva spent two days in intensive Wilderness First Aid training and Arts, well I’ll just say we now have a Wood Shop! Our Unit Leaders are anxiously preparing for the arrival of our cabin counselors and the start of All Staff Orientation on the 19th. Our Office Staff and Housekeepers are busy giving camp the physical infrastructure to open camp in just over a week. Our kitchen staff are busy cooking and serving the best food that we have seen in years!
Each of our staff members are being pushed to try new things. Their supervisors are acting like Sam, giving them options and support in order to be most comfortable trying things that are out of their comfort zone. At the end of the book, our friend listens to Sam and tried the green eggs and ham. Once he tried them, he loves them. We are seeing that same thing happen here. Unfamiliar customs are becoming tradition over time and our staff is shaping up to be great role models, ready to help our campers through those same uncomfortable moments, when everything is new. They will all be able to say, “I know how you feel.” And we’re only halfway through staff training!