Dear OSRUI Families,
The end of camp happens in the blink of an eye. After 11 weeks where each hour feels like a day, and the beginning feels like a distant memory, in 72 hours it all ends so quickly. The tents are taken down, the boats are out of the water, the horses go to their winter home, the pool is drained, and cabins are boarded shut. In those 72 hours we say so many goodbyes: to our campers as they return home, to our madrichim (counselors) as they head back to school and work, and finally to our leadership team as they depart and return to life outside of camp.
We spend weeks building our community at camp and it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of “the end” as summer concludes. However, there is more to it than simply ending. As I walk around camp in the days after everyone has left, the memories and sounds of the summer still echo here. Listen closely and it is possible to hear laughter, song, joy, and yes, some tears. I hope – actually, I know – that the echoes of camp carry far beyond camp. Our campers return from camp wiser, more self-confident, and with a sense of belonging. Our staff return from camp exhausted but filled with a feeling of accomplishment of what it means to be community builders and caretakers. This summer at camp we focused on four middot (Jewish values): perseverance, community mindedness, respect, and mindful presence. I know these values will shape how our campers and staff carry themselves during the months away from camp.
I believe that in today’s world camp is more important than ever before, and leaving camp is even harder than it used to be. Look around and we see deep-seated division in our communities, the constant pressure of being a young person, and the juxtaposition of constant connectedness and loneliness that pervade our society. For a few weeks, or a couple of months, camp is a break from these things for our campers and our staff. I am regularly blown away during the summer by the love I see kids have for each other, and the care that our staff give our campers. In just days I see campers go from not wanting to say goodbye to their parents on opening day to being leaders in front of a group of their peers. And, I see everyone in our camp community learn to live communally through conversation and compromise.
Our staff work hard year-round to create the community we build at camp. In the summer, over 300 people help to make it possible. From the staff in cabins and tents, to the specialists who make so many amazing activities happen, to the faculty who teach and lead, to those who keep camp clean, healthy, and well-fed, it really takes a village. I am consistently impressed by our staff’s passion, dedication, and belief that anything is possible at camp. I spend much of my time in the summer working with our leadership team who support the rest of the staff. Our professional staff and the rashei eidot (unit heads) are truly gifted leaders as they care for the community. Together, all of these people make magic happen at camp, and I am so grateful to them.
Camp would not be possible without our campers and their families. I am so grateful to our families for the trust they put in us at OSRUI. I hope that kids return home with memories, stories, and songs. And, I hope kids return home with a bit more maturity and independence. On behalf of all of us at OSRUI, thank you for being a part of our family; we can’t wait for next summer!