L’Dor V’Dor: How one summer can impact your futurePosted on July 18th, 2019
Former camper, counselor, and senior staff member, Shira Stevenson shares her story about how her first counselor impacted her future in ways that she couldn’t ever imagine!
When I started attending Greene Family Camp as a camper in Kohanim, I had no idea how much of an impact that GFC would make on my life. That summer, I was lucky enough to have a counselor that I will never forget. One of the first things that I like to tell people is that the only thing I remember about her is that she really enjoyed naps and that she peeled an orange with tongs. This isn’t actually true, and I also remember that she was compassionate, encouraging, and enthusiastic. Summer after summer, I came back to camp, and she was always there- watching me grow and being a role model.
Years later, it was my turn to be counselor and a role model to my own campers. My old counselor was still at camp. Now as a member of the Leadership Team. While she was still present to watch me grow, our camper/counselor relationship had shifted to that of peers. It was a pretty magical feeling.
I returned to Greene as a staff member for many years, and in that time, my counselor moved on to a full-time job at a congregation. She would return as a faculty member in the summer, and I continued to look up to her as a positive role model in my life. As I grew as a staff member, I went on to fill the same position on the Leadership Team that she held… and when I started working full time in the Jewish professional world, I began working at the same congregation that she had worked in, in a very similar role. These events were not planned, in fact, they happened by chance… but it is proof of the impact that my counselor had on my life.
I remember thinking to myself over the years, but especially after working with her in the professional world, “What would it be like to have my campers as my peers? How would it feel?”
This summer, I returned to camp as a faculty member for the first time. When I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited to be at camp in a new role. It took me a couple of hours to get used to all of the new “firsts” that I had never experienced at camp before: faculty meet & greets, leading education programs, and more. However, things immediately felt like home again when I walked into the Dining Hall. There were campers and counselors singing and dancing, just as there always had been.
Then it happened. My campers were now counselors, and they were right in front of me, dancing and singing with their campers. My campers were now MY peers.
When they saw me, they ran across the room, tackling me to the ground in excitement. It made me so happy to be remembered, and it reminded me of why I have continued work in the Jewish world. Throughout the week that I was at camp, I had the opportunity to go into their bunks to lead education for them (and my grand-campers!), I joined them at the lake, I danced and sang with them at song session, I and hung out with them in the staff lounge after their campers were asleep.
This week has been incredible. I can’t wait to watch my campers grow and to see where they go from here. I hope they have the opportunity to see their campers as staff members, because it’s the best feeling in the world.
Rosie, if you’re reading this, this one’s for you.