Memories of summers spent at camp hold a special place in the hearts of our readers. Color wars, first crushes, lifelong friendships forged and the joy of celebrating Shabbat form a mosaic of meaning and inspiration. We asked our readers to share some of those memories.
Larry and Ronnie Seiden Melnick met at Camp Barney Medintz of the Atlanta JCC, as did Larry and Marcia Gadlin Gelman, and married in 1973. Linda Snow and Barton Schachter met at Emma Kaufmann Camp and married in 1970 and then moved to Atlanta where Barton was Camp Barney director and introduced the two couples. They continue the friendships that started at camp in 1970.
Ronna Harris Askin:
When I was 7 years old I went to Emma Kaufmann Camp for the first time. On the first night in the cabin it was very quiet. I said, “Boy, it’s so quiet, I don’t even hear the lions roar.” My bunkmates thought I was totally crazy. But I grew up near the Highland Park Zoo. On summer nights all our windows were open and we could hear the nocturnal lions roar!
At EKC we would light shabbat candles before dinner on Friday nights. I was chosen to light the candles for the entire dining hall. Of course I knew the blessing perfectly well. Prior to dinner there was a mini-rehearsal. When it was my turn to stand at the candles and recite the blessing I totally froze at the words “ashare kid’shanu.” My counselor took both of my hands between hers and said, “A share. We will share together.” I can’t tell you how old I was nor who the counselor was. But, to this very day, every Shabbat when I light candles I am back in that EKC dining hall with my hands being gently held by the counselor who told me to “share.”
My EKC bunkmates and I are now 74. I still keep in touch with several of my camp friends. Thank you FaceBook. One of my friends said that she has a heartfelt dream that someday we will all get apartments at Riverview on the same floor. Every evening after dinner we will gather in the hall and sing camp songs! Sign me up, I’m all ready!
I worked for 17 summers at the now defunct Camp Sussex in Sussex, New Jersey. It was started in the 1920s to bring Jewish children who lived in the tenements of New York City out to the country. Mel Brooks attended camp there.
I worked for two summers at Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, Indiana with my two sons. There was a tragic lightning strike one summer and my son Jordan Keitel helped save a young girl’s life by performing CPR on her immediately after she was hit. My other son, Daniel Keitel, was the camp song leader and would lead the camp during Shabbat services and song sessions.
I have tons of great memories and photographs from both camps.
Rodney Fink: Memories of Emma Kaufmann Camp in Harmony, Pennsylvania.