Session 3 Firefly speech by Asher Caruso
My name is Asher Caruso, and this is my 7th year here at camp. This year, I’m sad to say, marks the end of my time as a camper. In my first summer here, the first year the camp existed, I was a proud Tel Aviv Tiger. Year after year I moved to Lod, Be’er Sheva, Herzliya, Tiberias, Ashkelon, and this session I’m back as a T-bird (for those counting I was in Tel Aviv twice).
To start off, I’d like to share a few memories with you, two of them are very old. The first is from my first summer at camp, and it’s hard to believe I still remember so clearly after all these years. Little 9-year-old Asher had a serious fear of thunderstorms, and at the time I was in the soccer major. On one occasion when there was a thunderstorm, I got a golf cart ride back to my dorm where we were put to bed. But I couldn’t sleep due to the thunder and lightning, so I made my way to my counselor Jeremy Lang’s room where he gave me a hug, and comforted me until I fell asleep.
My second memory is from the same year, but on Shabbat. It’s the end of the night, and the whole camp is standing in a circle (less than 100 of us), and were singing s. This memory, while short, has stayed with me all these years because even though the camp was small in numbers, the ruach and nefesh (spirit and soul) of 6 Points was palpable enough that 9-year-old me was taken by that moment, and has not let go or let that feeling change after 8 years.
My last memory is from the last year in Tiberias, 2nd session. After one of our brothers in the Thunder Birds had to leave camp due to the passing of a family member, our whole dorm during the mourner’s kaddish, rose in solidarity to mourn our loss. For me, it was one of the most impactful and important moments I’ve experienced at camp.
I’ve been trying to come up with a theme or a word that describes my time here, something that has substance, meaning, something that expresses to you what this camp means to me. For those of you who know me well, this is a big deal; I have no words. To give 6 Points adjectives like: incredible, extraordinary, life-changing, is disingenuous. No words can compare to the amount of pride and love that I have for this place. 6 Points hasn’t only helped in shaping my Jewish identity, it has helped me shape who I am, period.
The best way I can express why I feel so passionate and loving towards this camp is the community. That’s what all my stories have in common; when I think back on all my best memories here (trust me, there are quite a few), in some shape or form whether it be the whole camp, my dorm, or in my major, there is always a strong sense of community that is so palpable that it influences everything at camp. The profound sense of love, compassion, loyalty, trust, devotion, and all the J-Life values on and off this carabiner and our bracelets is reverberated in what this camp stands for, and the community it holds within the walls of the American Hebrew Academy.
Even though this speech is one giant thank you, I’d like to give another big thank you to all my coaches: Barry, Lindsey, Jackie, Beth, Lindsey, Tracey. You’ve mentored me for 7 summers of my life and have seen me grow as a person and as an athlete. Having your constant support is a blessing.
Next, I’d like to thank Leadership, coach director Herz, soccer-dad DKAP, HR, coach rabbis, the health team, basically, anyone and everyone who is dedicated to making each summer the best summer of my life, it means the world to me that you genuinely care.
I’d also like to give a massive shoutout to all my amazing counselors, particularly the ones who have been with me in the upper circle: Shipley, Noam, and Harel. You guys might not realize it, but being friends and brothers with you has made my summers incredible beyond words and I’m extremely humbled by the kindness and love you always present. Your hearts are made of gold and I don’t know who I would be without my biggest supporters and role models. I love you guys.
I have a special shoutout for my Herzliya, Tiberias, and Ashkelon counselor Harel Shabbot. Harel, you’ve been like a brother to me through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t trade the relationship I have with you for anything. Being your brother has molded me into the person I am today, you are who I aspire to be when I grow up. For all you do for me, I am eternally grateful and I love you very much.
To all you youngin’s in the 100 and 200 circles, I am entreating you to come back to camp. You are the future of this camp, its legacy, and its life force. Breathe it all in while you can; the beautiful, the ugly, the beef goulash, the quesadillas, because before you know it, you’ll be standing here wondering how life snuck up on you so fast.
This year for me, doesn’t mark the end of being a camper, it rather marks a new chapter where I can give back by teaching the lessons I’ve learned and impacting others in the positive way I’ve been impacted.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Bill Waterson, the author of the Calvin and Hobbes comic, “you know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon… Everything’s different.”