Lexi Floom, a former camper and Avodahnik, wrote this incredible essay about her favorite place on earth, OSRUI, as her college essay for Indiana University, and we are lucky that she has shared it with us.
OSRUI. The second my eight year old feet touched the luggage filled grass of the campgrounds, I knew OSRUI was the place for me. An overnight camp. A magical place steeped in over 50 years of Jewish heritage, tradition and culture. Our camp song said it all: “every year we venture back to a place we were before.” As the trees grew taller and the cabins grew older, I was growing and aging right along with them. Camp shaped me into the person I am today. Friendships. Family. Home.
From ages eight through twelve I lived on a kibbutz – an agricultural community. We grew and prepared our food together. We cared for our animals and each other. We shared a tent and our lives for the summer. I was part of a community.
When I was thirteen I discovered the arts program and developed my passion for dance and music. I learned to play guitar and gained the confidence to express myself in front of an audience. My peers became my fans. I was a performer.
Fourteen years old brought outdoor adventure. I climbed, belayed, and canoed. I overcame physical challenges and learned I could do anything I put my mind to. I was a warrior.
Fifteen years old: the challenge was intellectual. Sixty nine campers, twenty five Israeli counselors, eight weeks, no English. I had thrown myself into the prestigious Hebrew Immersion Program. It began as a struggle- 18% on the Hebrew pretest. I studied and persevered. At the program’s conclusion I had achieved a posttest of 100% and was named “Most Improved”. I was invincible.
With age sixteen came the hardest task I’d experienced yet: a thousand mile bike trip around Lake Michigan. I pedaled up every hill giving and receiving inspiration to and from my friends beside me. The same friends I made when I arrived at camp nine years prior. I was loved.
Seventeen was the culmination of all of my efforts: staff member. It was time to give the experience and knowledge I had gained back to my community. I was proud when I cooked and cleaned for the campers. I was excited when I helped them achieve the impossible. I was honored to now be the leader of the camp song. “Every year we venture back to a place we were before.” I was making a difference. I was home.