by Ari Rosenblatt, Avodah ’20

My first time at camp was back in 2012, coincidentally 8 years ago today. It was an amazing summer but it had a weird start. My mom was so excited for me to be going to camp for the first time she drove me there about an hour earlier then I was supposed arrive. I was so embarrassed because I was the only camper surrounded by a ton of staff and counselors. I think I sat for over 3 hours waiting for my entire cabin to arrive. To say it was the longest 3 hours of my life would not be an exaggeration.

I sat in the Beit Am and watched as other campers arrived, running up to their friends screaming with excitement to see each other. So excited, that almost all of them would fall on the ground laughing. In that moment I realized that this was the community that I wanted to be apart of and the people that I wanted to have in my life. That day, I also realized that in 2020 I would be an Avodahnik and then a CIT the following year. I imagined what it would be like to see my friends that summer, running and screaming to meet each other, finally back at camp!


Now it is 2020 and I am here at home, all by myself, just like I was at sitting in the Beit Am, the first camper to arrive, back in 2012.


But there is a difference. Now I am not just a little 8 year old at camp for the first time. I am a 16 year old in Avodah, representing my class, with nothing but gratitude for this community and this space, which has allowed me to grow and become the person I want to be in my life.


I wish I could be with all of my friends right now, screaming and hugging them, instead of sending private messages on Zoom, to tell them how much they mean to me and how thankful I am to have them in my life. And even though this is not what I had imagined for Summer 2020, I know that camp has given me the opportunity to make these connections and meet my best friends that will be in my life forever. Whether in person or in front of a screen.


Back to 2012, and it was the end of my first summer at camp. Again I sat alone but this time I was waiting for my mom to pick me up. This time she wasn’t an hour early, she was an hour late. So I sat with all of the staff and counselors waiting for her to come so I can tell her about the amazing two weeks I spent at 4088 Porter Creek Rd.


When I finally saw her I said, “Mom, I can’t believe you dropped me off early and picked me up late, that’s so embarrassing.” Her response was, “Well, you got more time at camp than everyone else in your session!”


This summer I won’t get the most amount of time at camp. My 8 weeks turned into 4 weeks; the 222 stairs turned into 25; the chairs by the bay or in the Beit T’fillah turned into a desk chair in my room. We can all make these comparisons of what this summer would have been, how we imagined it to be. But I would rather stay present and think about the last 2 weeks when I have had the opportunity to be involved in virtual Avodah and TeenFest. I have gotten to participate in Virtual Pride, fun mixers, learned how to be a leader, and so many other amazing programs.


I am so thankful for my experiences at camp from 2012 to now. Even though we are all online and this is not how we imagined camp shabbat to be l honestly wouldn’t want it to be any other way

Ari’s Shabbat message was originally shared on the CIT/Avodah Shabbat celebration on Friday, July 3, 2020.