In today’s blog post, Erin talks about what brought her to where she is today… back home at GFC!
I was 10 years old when I first stepped foot onto Greene Family Camp. From the moment I arrived, I knew that I was home. Though no one in my family had ever been to camp, I was one of four students from my congregation in Houston chosen to receive a campership. After we checked in, unpacked, and had lunch, I was ready to say goodbye to my mom, who was not at all ready for me to say goodbye. She gave me a tearful hug and kiss, then waved goodbye as I ran off with friends.
In some ways, I never looked back. I have spent 25 summers of my life in Jewish camping, and my love for Jewish camp began at GFC. As a camper, counselor, unit head, and assistant director at Greene, I learned to love and be proud of being Jewish. That led me to become a rabbi and Jewish educator. Spending many years at other camps– Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps and URJ Camp Newman – taught me that our values can be universal, that Jewish camp is impactful in many settings, and solidified my belief that community created at camp is built on trust and love. My work with the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston brought me back home to Texas with my family and highlighted that the values we promote at camp are held dear throughout our Jewish community.
Abraham Joshua Heschel taught that Judaism is a religion of time, not space. We base our lives around the Jewish calendar – holidays, life cycle events, families, and communal gatherings. At camp, creating this holy time means providing an opportunity to form community and nurture a family-like atmosphere in which campers and staff alike can be their best selves. Hopefully, they bring all that home and turn it into a passion for living Jewishly, being involved in their Jewish community at home and connecting year-round. Because that is the goal – to ensure that our community does not just exist in one sacred space but is felt through our connections with each other wherever we are. This is rings true especially now, when we are learning to connect with each other virtually in all sorts of new and creative ways. The time we spend with our camp family now truly becomes holy time; we may be in our own spaces, but still able to build our connection with one another.
Generations of southern Jews found something special in this GFC community and passed it down to their children and grandchildren. As a parent, it is an amazing feeling to know that my children get to experience camp in the place that I first felt its magic. My son, Zachary, was a camper last summer, and this summer his sisters, Eliza and Aviva, will be in cabin as well.
My husband, Mike, a congregational educator and musician, notes that camp life is a family affair, and our family is all in. I am so excited that they now call GFC home, too.