The Choices We Make

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Hi, my name is Joshua. I have been a camper at Henry S. Jacobs Camp for 8 years, but Jacobs Camp goes way back in my history. My dad grew up in Dothan, Alabama, and attended camp for all of his childhood. He worked at camp for many years as a counselor and a food worker. My older brother also went to Jacobs Camp.

Camp has definitely changed my perspective on many real-world problems and has changed the way I approach any social situation. With all the things that are going on in the world right now, those aforementioned social situations come in the form of riots, protests, and a lot of other social justice events. Of course, Jacobs Camp has taught me to handle these situations on a smaller scale but the principles and strategies apply nonetheless. At camp, you learn most of these things early on, and then as you grow older, you practice them on a day to day basis and develop them more and more. 

While I wish the world was perfect, we all know it isn’t. Many attendees of Jacobs Camp live in places where Judaism isn’t very common, and they have to face social injustices every day. I am a little different. I live in Solon, OH a suburb of Cleveland. Because of the Cleveland Clinic, which is one of the best hospitals in the nation, and the different factories around us, Solon is one of the most diverse suburbs in the country. About 20% of the population is Asian including Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian people. I would say about 15% of the population is African-American. About 5% of the population is Jewish, which is a very sizable amount.

Because of all of this diversity, I see a lot of acts of discrimination and acts of social injustice every day. Jacobs Camp has, unquestionably, influenced the way I handle these encounters. When I moved to Solon in the 4th grade, I had no friends. The first 2 friends I met, who are still my best friends through and through, were a Ghanian Seventh-Day Adventist and Hindu. Having these two people as my friends has been a complete blessing, but can also sometimes be a curse.

Bullying never ceases to exist or even decreases as you get older. Some people are just set in their ways. No matter how old I get, there is always someone who has something to say about our skin color or our beliefs. Now, when you’re young, all that you know how to do in that situation is cry, let those people power over you, or get hurt. But, after all my years at camp, I’ve learned how people who say those mean things think and how to use their weaknesses against them. Jacobs Camp has taught me how to solve these encounters by using words or actions. Now, to those bullies, I would just walk away and report it to an adult or to a higher power. Bullies thrive on violence and anger. But, if you deprive them of those, all you are left with is a confused human being.

Needless to say, with the large scale problems that are occurring in the world today, you can’t just tell an adult because as soon as you join in as a protester or just someone who is trying to provide power to the powerless, you become an adult. The choices that you make as an adult can change your future and the same applies to the peaceful and violent events that are occurring.

So what do you do when you encounter a bully or a rotten person during these times? You stand your ground, you fight, peacefully not violently, for a better country, a better future, better ideals, and just for the safety of all human beings.