There is a large difference between my home address and where I feel truly at home. My home address is where you can find my personal possessions, my clothes, and my favorite pictures. However, where I feel ultimately at home is where you can find my heart. My home address might be on Bay State Road, in Boston, Massachusetts, but my home is the URJ Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas.
Greene Family Camp provides a safe haven for campers to try absolutely anything and everything. I was never the adventurous type and stuck to the same activities and friends during my eight summers at GFC, until I was challenged in a totally new way. For seven summers, I was at camp for only my own personal benefit. I wanted to have fun and spend a three week period with my best friends. My eighth summer, my Avodah or counselor in training year, was now suddenly not only for me, but also for my campers. I was responsible for ensuring that 12 young girls felt the same way that I did; that even though they are sending letters back to their parents at their home address, they felt at home at camp.
Leadership is sometimes taken as a very flat definition with rigid and concrete examples: speaking in front of a group or delegating different tasks to coworkers. I might not have been doing conventional leadership work as an Avodah, but I learned a very important lesson: not everything is about you. To be a leader, you must be passionate about what you are doing, enjoying yourself, and occasionally reaping personal benefits. Yet, it doesn’t stop there. Leadership extends outside of your own personal bubble and into other people’s lives. Whether it is through my work with NFTY or I am “bringing my Lexus to Bruceville, Texas”, my efforts extend to the larger Jewish community.
These simple lessons make the largest impact. My most valuable leadership lessons were learned at our URJ camp nestled deep in the heart of Texas.