By Sarah Levy, former camper and member of Congregation Or Ami

I do not think I could ever thank my parents enough for shipping me off to Jewish summer camp nine summers ago.

As my fourth grade self rode the bus through the gates of URJ Camp Newman, I had no idea how impactful that place would be on my life. Spending my summers on Porter Creek Road were crazy, fun-filled adventures. But, as I returned home at the end of each summer, I always felt a sense of maturity and growth. At camp, living in a cabin with fifteen other girls can be challenging at times, but after learning the importance of good communication, kindness and respect, it seemed as though many of those difficulties disappeared.

At camp, I spent the majority of the week looking forward to Friday night Shabbat. With the entire camp dressed in white, gathered together to pray, I found my Jewish identity. It was during those many Shabbat services, sitting blinded by the sun in the Beit T’fillah outdoor sanctuary, that I realized how awesome it is to be Jewish and how special I felt to be a part of such an amazing community.

Through weekly Frisbee games on the upper field, hiking to the star, early morning t’fillah in the vineyard, working at OKY – the camp’s kibbutz, cabin time, getting to know my counselors, and simply experiencing what it was like to be a carefree kid in the summertime, Camp Newman instilled within me lifelong values of friendship, teamwork, family and love that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.