Every year my friends would try to convince me to go to year-round events at Greene Family Camp, but I never signed up. I was scared that going to camp for only a few days would somehow take away from the magic of the summer because it had always been this sacred place I could only go to for three weeks out of the year. Most of my camp friends also lived in Austin, and I got to see them a lot throughout the year, so missing out on a weekend never felt like a big loss compared to the possibility of ruining what made camp special. I took these events for granted because I knew I’d be back in Bruceville in the summer.

My outlook on things was a little bit different this year though because after Kibbutz we weren’t able to go to camp, and instead I went on Garin Greene, GFC’s NFTY in Israel trip. For the first time since I was seven, I didn’t spend my summer at GFC and suddenly I was looking for any excuse to go back. As soon as registration opened for Summerpalooza, I signed up. I was excited to be back at camp and with my friends again, but I had no idea what to expect for my first regional NFTY event. I knew that it would have educational social action aspects, but I assumed it would be structured similarly to camp, which was correct in some ways, and completely wrong in others. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while, because not only was I back at the place that I love with my best friends, but I was also learning new things and having really interesting discussions with people who I never would have met otherwise.

I realized at Summerpalooza that these weekends that I had always seen as an excuse to go hang out at camp for a few days, were really ways for me to become more connected to my role in the Jewish community and understand how it relates to the rest of the world. I honestly wish I had been involved in NFTY sooner, but now that I understand how much I can gain from it, I’m looking forward to being as involved as I possibly can.


-Written by GFC camper and NFTYite, Emery Johnson-Bell