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Farewell from Michele

Farewell from Michele

Posted on January 11th, 2019

In January 2015, Larry Nathan invited me to fly out to Austin to tour Greene Family Camp for the first time as part of my job interview process.

It was a cold, rainy day – everyone joked “It won’t feel like this in the summer, enjoy it while it lasts!” I agonized all morning about my choice to wear rain boots. This was a job interview – but if Greene is anything like the camps I knew, they get muddy in the rain. When I first arrived, Jen Luskey told me I looked cute and immediately I felt welcomed.

A month later I got the call from Loui – I got the job. Through happy tears, I called my parents in Philadelphia and told them “I’m so sorry, but I’m moving to Texas.”

I think I had a feeling this job would change my life – my summers as a counselor at URJ Camp Harlam in the Poconos certainly did, and taught me about the transformative power of summer camp that compelled me to want to enter the field full time after college.

When I walk laps around perimeter road today, I’m in awe of how much my relationship with this place has changed in four years. When I first came to Greene, it felt SO big. I didn’t know the difference between my Beit Aish and my Beit HaAm. All of the faces were new to me and none of the almost 800 kids were ever my campers as a counselor. It was also a reunion summer which is a particularly busy time to be thrown into a new job focused on communications.

Now, four years later – Greene is where I grew creatively and professionally, became a better leader, a better communicator, a better coworker, and a better friend.

This is a terribly hard job to leave because it is truly so familial. When we say “Family is our middle name,” we mean it. I’d like to spend a moment saying thank you to these members of the camp family that I will particularly miss:

To the parents, thank you for your comments, likes, and follows. Thank you for attending my camp presentations and giving me the honor of touring many of you around camp. I have been so lucky to communicate to you over these four summers.

To our campers, thank you for giving my job so much meaning. The smiles on your faces, your energy at song sessions and campfires, silly joke suggestions for the morning PowerPoints, and love of camp and Judaism made work easy and fun.

To the photo and video staff I’ve supervised, you have taught me so much and I am forever grateful to work with such talented, creative, passionate, and caring individuals. You perform the hardest jobs at camp – keeping parents happy, keeping your co-counselors happy, keeping your campers happy – all while spending hours and hours uploading and editing.

To the Camp Committee, your love and continued connection to camp inspires me and it has been a joy to listen and plan with you, and I look forward to what I’m sure will be shared partnerships in the future.

To the leadership teams from the past four years, I have learned so much from your love of camp, leadership skills, enthusiasm and energy. Particularly in Summer 2015 – when I was new and lost, you were there for me and helped create my foundation to the camp community.

To the URJ Camp Staff at large – my interactions with you have been some of the most rewarding parts of this position. To be able to share everything from best practices to inside jokes – I know I can go anywhere in the country and feel at home, whether that’s at your URJ camp or on your apartment couch. From Biennials to conferences, I will miss seeing you throughout my year.

To the full time team, past and present: You are my family. Being 1,662 miles from home, you are my stand-in parents, siblings, cousins, and cool aunts. From Jake, Alex, Jen, Ana, April, Sean and Jess to Andrew, Emily, Ethan, Linda, Jared, McKenzie and Sydney – a lot has changed in four years but you’ve all taught me so much and will be a part of my life forever. Mindy, Larry, Rose, the three who have been with me since the start – and of course Stefani and Loui, the best supervisors, teachers, mentors and friends I could have.

People often say that outside of camp is the “real world.” That when you leave camp, it’s going back to reality. That’s entirely false. Greene Family Camp has been my real world for the last four years. While I am sad that Greene will no longer be the forefront of my reality, I hope to continue to stay involved in this incredible community for the future.

As I move onto a new position as Marketing Analyst at Kimley-Horn, I will take with me all that I have learned from my years at Greene – and I look forward to spending time with many of you in my new home of Houston.

This isn’t goodbye, it’s simply l’hiteraot and thank you.

Michele