Hanukkah Night 2 | Amber’s Miracle of Camp


Halfway up the zipline ladder, he got slower and slower. Then, he turned around with tears in his eyes and defeat written all over his face. He told us he was too scared to go. The fear was taking over, and he was about to walk away from the thing he was most excited about trying at Family Retreat. As I walked over to try to talk to him, a staff member stepped in before I could get to my son. Within minutes of some encouragement, support, smiles, and gentle nudging, my six-year-old reclimbed the ladder and took that big, brave step off the zipline platform. With fears now conquered, my boy gained confidence, found a new passion at camp, and discovered a new appreciation for facing his fears. And me? Well, I got to witness all the miracles of that moment.

I saw the light in my child’s eyes, as he discovered how brave he is. I saw the connection the staff member made with my young son. I saw the opportunity that all three of my sons were able to experience, the memories they were making, the excitement and joy they were feeling. I got to witness my child falling even more in love with the camp I have always loved. Just when I thought my time learning, growing, and experiencing at Greene was over, it continues giving to me as an adult.

That’s the miracle of camp. It is a gift that keeps on giving. At 9-years-old, it’s where I learned to be more independent, learned that I could be away from home and still be okay, discovered new friendships that would last a lifetime. It was my home away from home every summer, and much like young kids view Hanukkah, a much-anticipated highlight of each year. It’s where I gained a love of Israel, learned more about my culture, my people, my God. It’s where I had my first kiss, tried new foods and new activities, sharpened my horseback-riding skills, and felt a deep sense of belonging.

As I grew older, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at camp, and I accepted that Greene would be a part of my history and not my present or future. I tucked away the memories of gorgeous sunsets, spirited song sessions, silly Hebrew lessons, Maccabiah excitement, white Shabbats, and hypnotizing night skies. I attended camp reunions, but those were short day trips. Then, I heard about the first GFC Women’s Retreat and was eager to spend time with dear friends at Greene for a weekend, a get-away that did not disappoint. Not wanting to leave, I told myself I’d get to come back if we signed up for Family Retreat. So, under the guise of showing Greene off to my husband and children, I was able to come back again a short time later. Since then, my kids and my husband have fallen in love with camp. In fact, my brave zipliner told me just the other night that he can’t wait for the world to be normal again. I asked him, “If you woke up tomorrow and everything were ‘back to normal’ again, what would that look like?” He said, “We’d be able to go back to Greene.”

During this Hanukkah, while we celebrate the miracle of lights and of triumph, I am grateful for the miracle of camp, the miracle of my history coming full circle into my future and that of my own children, the miracle of the gifts we continue to find, learn, and create at camp.