Introducing Sydney Benator, Our New Kitchen ManagerPosted on September 28th, 2018
Growing up in Atlanta, I was very involved in my Jewish community. I went to Jewish day school, held leadership positions in Jewish youth group, and frequently spent time at my local JCC.
Five years ago, I decided to leave my family, my dogs, and my Jewish community behind to attend the University of Texas at Austin to study Nutrition and Dietetics and fulfill my goal of becoming a Dietitian. I was determined to have a fresh start and create a new identity for myself along with gaining as much experience as possible to get to my dream job. That meant spending more time at Texas nutrition meetings than at Texas Hillel events, not joining a Jewish sorority, but one where a met a variety of girls, studying for tests instead of attending services, and honestly not connecting with the Jewish community except for playing Jewish geography with the Jews I met in Austin.
My final year of college, after meeting a nice Jewish boy (who also didn’t join a Jewish fraternity) I had a companion to attend religious services and make Shabbat dinners with which rekindled my love for our unique Jewish culture. One day as I was contemplating the famous question of “What do I really want to do with my life?” I stumbled across an email with the headline “internship at Jewish summer camp”
I paused, my heart beating fast, then quickly called my parents to tell them how excited I was that this kind of position actually existed. I knew I loved counseling, management, and everything involving food. I knew I had gained a ton of Jewish leadership experience growing up. Never did I think that all my skills since high school could be utilized in one place. After being accepted as the Greene Family Camp’s nutrition therapy specialist this past year, assisting kids with allergies and other special dietary concerns, I knew I couldn’t help but come back to camp again. The moment I drove through the gates at camp I felt at home. I felt truly accepted by the others around me and that I had a place to utilize my skills while also giving back to the community that had given me so much.
After six stressful but incredible weeks, then more internships to follow, here I am. Now I am the Greene Family Camp’s new kitchen manager excited to be part of the full-time leadership team. Food is such a central part of life, especially among the Jewish people. Food is not just fuel, but symbolizes our culture and history, brings us around the table to reflect on our day, and nourishes our body and soul. It is my goal as the new kitchen manager to make the dining experience at camp a safe place for all campers to discover what nourishing their body means to them. For many kids, camp is the first time they decide what is on their plate. The camp experience allows them to become more autonomous over their food choices, experiment with new foods, and learn what food fuels and energizes them. Taking care of your body and self is an important aspect of the Jewish tradition so why not make this a goal for kids at camp?