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A Stranger in a Strange Land

Photo of Kristin and her campers at Rib Night

On June 5, 2021, I drove through the gates of Henry S. Jacobs Camp for the first time in my life into what was truly the unknown. I only knew one person at camp, and I did not know her very well– I was very much a stranger in a strange land. As I approached the many smiling faces of the Leadership Team to get checked in, I realized that I had the opportunity here and now to be whoever I wanted to be for the summer. Camp was not simply a place where I would work and meet some new folks; it was a place where I had nothing but time and opportunity to become part of something wonderful.

I quickly learned that I was not the only person who felt this way.

Over the course of the summer, I noticed time and time again that so many members of our camp community see their summers here in Utica as a chance to have a fresh start. At camp, the baggage of the outside world falls away and we are presented with a clean slate year after year. In a way, the act of coming home to camp has become a ritual of self-transformation. Over and over again, I heard people say things like “I get to be my real self at camp,” “camp is where I get to try new things.” Not only that, but that “camp is the place where you can mess up and know everything is going to be okay”– a place which allows each of us to engage in our own acts of tshuva– transforming our mistakes into self-improvement through restoration.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said, “We must start over everyday– sometimes many times each day,” and camp is a place which radically embraces this in every way. Whether we– staff and campers alike– were expanding our social circles to include new people, redeeming less-than-stellar summers past, or showing our authentic selves to the world for the first time, it is clear that camp is a place for true beginnings and new beginnings.

About the Author

Kristin Newman

Kristin N. is a second year staff member from Hammond, Louisiana. She joins the Jacobs Magic this year as Chalutzim Unit Head and can’t wait for her first song session with her campers! 


Thank You 2022 Donors!

Thank You 2022 Donors!

Thank You 2022 Donors! The support of our generous community has truly been the backbone of everything we do at Jacobs Camp. In 2022, we saw record enrollment numbers with over 525 campers attending one of our sessions, and we are on track for similar enrollment...