by Susan Alexander, Associate Director
There was a fire in downtown Oconomowoc on Sunday. Camp was not ever in danger as the fire was not near to our space. I am telling you about this because I want you to hear about some of the heroes who saved lives during this terrible event. The heroes I am talking about are not the fire fighters or police. They are members of the OSRUI staff. The same staff that makes camp the wonderful and safe place that it is – the safe place for all the campers.
After Kallah and Tzofim campers left for home Sunday, staff members from those two units were able to have some time off and leave camp to get lunch and relax a bit. Many were at a restaurant in the downtown area. One member of our staff saw smoke coming from a building across the street. He immediately told the rest and they leaped into action. They alerted people to get out of the building and held the ladders. One staff member caught someone who fell from an awning while being carried to safety. A member of our mishlachat (Israeli staff) tended to the bleeding arm of a man who got hurt while breaking a window in order to get folks out of the building. They all helped. They didn’t think about whether they should help, they just helped. They were the first responders and they stayed until several fire departments arrived. When they left they carried away with them the sadness of the event.
The Kallah and Tzofim unit heads responded to their shaken staff by allowing them to attend a movie with our intersession campers, hoping that they could relax and forget the fire – and by listening – the listening was so important and restorative.
I always said that the staff at OSRUI is the best! We make sure they are trained in CPR and safety skills. We talk about possible dangers and expect them to always be prepared, “just in case.” We expect so much from them on so many levels.
On Sunday they exceeded our expectations.
Susan Alexander is the Associate Director of URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, a position she has held since 1999.