During the hectic chaos of an Ultimate Frisbee game, I saw three campers chatting away next to the Gaga pit. As I walked over, I overheard them talking about video games, obscure history facts, and their favorite board games. As I joined the conversation, I saw that same excitement I had as an older camper at Jacobs Camp. Free to be me and discuss my own nerdy interests with a passion, camp has always been where I can be truly me. As we kept talking, the topic moved to adapting to high school. As each kid was going into 9th grade, they all wanted to know some advice for this new segment of their education. The best advice I gave them that afternoon was to continue to be yourself. No matter how quirky or strange your passions may seem, continue to follow them. I distinctly remember having similar talks with my own councilors when I was 14. These moments of reassurance that being you is not just ok but exciting is what has defined my camp experience. I grew from a kid ashamed to list off random history facts to a teenager eagerly waiting to write another article on whatever struck my interest.
Camp may advertise their activities, events or programs, but the most transformative part of camp is the ability to truly be yourself. Being a middle schooler is impossible. You’re asked to conform to the popular people in your grade while also trying to make your own identity. At camp, this could not be farther from the truth. Somehow, through the diligent work of each staff member, being yourself is special, celebrated, and important.
As we walked back to the cabin, I convinced the three campers to try writing about some of their passions for their student newspapers. As an editor of my paper at school, I think it’s a wonderful way to express one’s self. They all seemed surprised that people are interested in reading a new video game review or monthly weird history story segment. With a bubbly enthusiasm, they each promised to at least try writing an article they were passionate about in high school. Moments like this are what can change a camper’s life. They certainly have changed mine.
Noah is a first-time staff member. He is a talmidim counselor and a vital part of the sports department. The featured photo is Noah ( far right) and three of his campers boating.