Camp is Everywhere!

Post by Marc Landis, Camp Harlam Council Member

“Camp is everywhere!” Some might find that an odd statement, especially as we have yet to emerge from one of the snowiest Mid-Atlantic winters in recent memory. We still have just over 100 days to go before Camp Harlam opens its gates for the first summer session, as we stuff the car with the belongings of two excited campers, eagerly awaiting their return to the hugs of their dearest friends.

Barak, Judy, and Marc Landis (left to right) observe Havdallah.

Barak, Judy, and Marc Landis (left to right) observe Havdallah.

You might wonder how I know exactly how many days there are until camp begins. I used to tell everyone, “Just look at the countdown clock on the Camp Harlam website!” Fired up by last week’s Camp Harlam Reunion, Rachel (she’s the one who uses a “Dorney Day” photo as a screensaver) has created a more personal reminder as she prepares way too far in advance for her fifth summer — she has added countdown dates to our family’s shared electronic calendar. The calendar entries culminate on June 25, 2014, which is now labeled “Camp! Woohoo! Kunkletown, PA.”

Or maybe it’s because our kids conspire to tell us next to nothing about the summer when they come home, and then allow tidbits to slip past the Cone of Silence during the winter. While driving to the Reunion, Barak (getting ready for his second summer) told me about his first Camp Harlam Shabbat last summer, and how one of his favorite counselors, “Turtle”, shared his own “first camp Shabbat” experiences with him.

Perhaps it is because last month, Rachel became a Bat Mitzvah, and you could see the love as she was mobbed by her bunkmates after Shabbat services at our shul, Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York. A few hours later, Rachel, Barak and all of the camp friends (many of whom had traveled hundreds of miles in lousy weather to be with us) led family and friends in a Harlam-style Havdalah service.

Rachel Landis (left) having a blast at Dorney Park.

Rachel Landis (center) having a blast at Dorney Park.

During her D’var Torah, Rachel said:

This wonderful Jewish community is what made me decide to go to Camp Harlam, and that just may have been the best decision of my life. I could never imagine my summers without services at the Chapel on the Hill, arms around my best friends in the world, at my other Jewish home. Studying for my Bat Mitzvah while at Camp Harlam created a new connection for me.

Thirty-some years ago, my time at Camp Harlam forged unbreakable bonds of friendship for me.  I feel privileged that Rachel and Barak are having that same experience, as they re-inspire me to study, to learn and to act.  In a few weeks, I will join Camp Harlam’s professional staff and other members of our Camp Council at the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Leaders Assembly, where we will compare notes with our colleagues, and continue planning to make camp an even more extraordinary experience than it is right now.

Yes, even at this time of the year, if you are part of the Camp Harlam family, camp is everywhere!

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