by Robyn Teplitzky
Senior Consultant for Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven
Diving into a lake, hiking through a field, bug juice, and singing songs with life-long friends around a campfire are all the things that remind us all of summer camp. However, I was recently taken back in time, by the cool, fresh cut-grass smell by a Summer Camp Homesick candle.
While recently visiting my adult daughter, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that she displayed a candle reminding her of summers spent at Camp Young Judea in Amherst, NH. She and her brother lived ten months for two. My heart was bursting with joy to know that it was one of the most important and memorable aspects of her life. The friendships made, leadership experiences, and culture observed, had an undeniable impact. The many years of driving to visit friends throughout the year, attending Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, prom dates and 6 weeks in Israel as the first of several trips never compared to being there with her camp friends.
As a Jewish communal worker, I was so happy to know that all of the informal Jewish experiences, her father and I encouraged, had such an impact on the woman she has become. Our commitment and involvement in our local Jewish community, as volunteers and leaders, concerned us that the many hours we dedicated to committee and board meetings and weekend and evening events would have a reverse effect. Just the opposite.
Both of our children, independently, have embraced their own love of Judaism The positive impact of a multitude of Jewish Federation supported programs; day school, summer overnight camp, BBYO, ADL Confronting Anti-Semitism teen training, March of the Living, Hillel, Jewish spring break alternative programs, fraternities and sororities, Jewish graduate programs, Birthright and Onward Israel, all helped to instill the values and skills that our children needed to continue to leave a Jewish legacy. We got lucky.
I choked up as I lit the Summer Camp candle. The reflection in the light confirmed, for me, that my children know when they light the Shabbat and Hanukkah candles, as well as their Homesick candle, they are the flames that will carry on the love of summer camp and more.
Robyn Teplitzky is the past Senior Director of the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence for the Jewish Federations of North America is and currently an independent nonprofit consultant.