Jacob’s Camp: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Growing up there was no happier place for me than the grounds of HSJ. I spent every summer there from 3rd grade until college. Even today as an adult, driving though those gates makes me feel warm and fuzzy like nothing else. During my time as a camper I made lifelong friendships, learned what my Judaism meant to me, and gained self-confidence that carried me through every challenge I faced in my life. What I didn’t expect was more than 20 years since my last summer there, my ties to Jacobs Camp would still be giving me so many blessings.
This summer was my oldest child’s first summer at Jacobs Camp. Suzie was born happy, joyful, and the life of the party. No kidding, we have a picture of her smiling while being weighed for the first time! We knew she would love Jacobs Camp and waited patiently for her first summer. The day after we picked her up from Olim she came to me and said, “Mom, Jacobs Camp cloned me.” What? Of all the things I expected her to tell me about camp, this wasn’t on the list. I needed more information. “Mommy, Jacobs Camp is where they take your soul and put it in another person. I met my soulmate. She was in my cabin.” Deep words for a 7-year-old! The fact that after only 14 days my daughter felt such a deep connection to her new friends and Jacobs proved to me that camp magic never fades!
My time at Jacobs also lead me to a career that I love. I now work for Jewish Children’s Regional Service. We provided financial assistance to Jewish families in the mid-south region for special needs, college aid, disaster assistance, and of course, Jewish summer camp! I fell into this role so easily because not once did I have to be convinced of the importance of Jewish summer camp or Jewish community support. If you told me as a camper that one day I would have a job where I got to tell people about how amazing Jewish summer camp is, I probably would have believed you. Ask my parents, I talked a lot as a kid, mostly about camp, and entirely for FREE!
I cannot wait to see what gifts my children receive from their summers at HSJ, and what paths their experience will lead them down. Now, how many more days until opening day?
About the Author
Amelia Mann Halstead is Director of Marketing and Development at Jewish Children’s Regional Service in Metairie, LA. She and her husband live in New Orleans with their two little girls with big personalities and two rescue pups. From High Holidays during football season, to explaining the difference between Hanukkah gelt and Mardi Gras doubloons (one has chocolate), the Halstead family loves embracing what it means to be southern Jews.
"J-A-C-O-B-S, Jacobs is our name. Hey!" Show your camp spirit by purchasing a re-booted vintage HSJ t-shirt. Were you at camp when it was the Henry S. Jacobs Camp Institute? Do you know where your 80s-90s Staff t-shirt is? Have you always wanted that HSJ Rainbow...