Hanukkah Night 1, by Zoe Makler

As a summer staff member at GFC, the days can sometimes blur together, but some unforgettable staff moments have the power to transform your entire outlook on camp and life. Upon receiving an invitation cordially inviting me to light fireworks, I felt incredibly excited yet super nervous. How was I supposed to light fireworks for the whole camp when I had never done it before? I was so scared of messing up and accidentally burning the camp down that I almost backed out, until suddenly I heard 10 screaming voices gathered around my bed. I heard my campers shout “You get to light fireworks?! That is the coolest thing ever! I can’t wait to be a counselor!” Even though I may have had prior doubts, listening to their voices made me set aside my personal fears and put on pants in 100-degree weather in preparation to light fireworks for the Spectacular Day celebration.

Walking onto the field with the other fireworks lighters, I was still extremely apprehensive. Luckily, I spotted a close friend, and knowing that we were able to share this experience together calmed my nerves. As the directions were haphazardly stated, I smiled and nodded and pretended I knew what was going on, a common occurrence for a camp counselor. But when the time arrived for the actual lighting of the fireworks, knowing I had my longtime camp friend and so many other amazing staff members right beside me reminded me of what made camp so magical – the people. Determined to create that euphoric “camp magic” for the entire community, I decided to tackle this challenge, and it changed my life.

While watching the dazzling display in the sky, I realized that I was not only physically lighting fireworks in this one moment –  as a summer camp counselor, I light fireworks everyday. I have the honor of creating special moments for my campers that make them say “wow” as they discover the magic of camp through new adventures and with one other. I have the privilege of making lasting memories with friends from my Bonim days and friends I met two weeks ago, all of which will last a lifetime. And to top it all off, I have the incredible opportunity to engage in personal growth experiences that nobody can ever take away from me. Will some dud fireworks exist that may not exactly light? Yes- but you won’t know until you try. Will some fireworks go awry and decide to not properly explode? Yes. (Pro-tip: if you are selected to light fireworks, this is why you should wear pants… speaking.from personal experience!) But if you step up and fully commit to any challenge, will the fireworks that light up the entire sky be worth it? 100% Yes.

So as my campers so eloquently stated,  “You get to light fireworks?! That is the coolest thing ever! I can’t wait to be a counselor,” and I’ve been dreaming of going back to this moment of when I first learned how to truly light fireworks.