The Most Meaningful Work in the World
By Kat DeSantis, Assistant Camp Director
In the spring semester of my senior year, I had to decide what I was going to do with my life after college. I had been reflecting on my great experience at Washington College, a small school on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and realized just how much I’d learned. As a Political Science and Philosophy double major, I certainly learned a lot in the classroom, but I gained the most from involvement on campus and in the community. I’ve spent four years in the Student Government Association, done internships at The Hill Newspaper and the Maryland General Assembly, published some work in our college’s academic journal, and spent time working at an amazing non-profit, Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. I’d had so many enriching and exciting opportunities, leaving no leaf left unturned, but unfortunately, something was still missing. There was something huge that Washington College couldn’t give me. And that was a Jewish community.
Growing up, I was one of the only kids in my class who loved Hebrew school. I loved spending time with my Jewish peers, learning something new outside of what they teach in public school, and running around the synagogue during special games and activities. That love of Hebrew school grew into a love of being Jewish, and I jumped on as many Jewish opportunities as I could: I attended URJ Camp Harlam for a few years, got Bat Mitzvah’d, participated in URJ Mitzvah Corps, worked as a Hebrew School Aid, and joined Shaarai Shomayim Temple Youth, or SSTY, at my synagogue in Lancaster, PA. While serving on SSTY’s small executive board, I heard that everyone was going away for the weekend to a NFTY event, and jumped on the bus headed to Junior Youth Kallah a few weeks later. After attending every regional event I could, I ran for NFTY-PAR board my senior year of high school, which cemented my passion for leadership in the Jewish community.
During my service as Communications Vice President of NFTY-PAR, I had the privilege of running one of my programs at NFTY Veida, one of the biggest North American conferences. I had created and facilitated a program about college campus sexual assault prevention for my 200-person region at our Fall Kallah, and when I got the chance to run it for 500 participants at Veida, I was in awe of the work I could do my peers. This was one of the most important and impactful experiences of my life.
Fast forward to college, and you can imagine that going from constant interaction with Judaism to none, it was a challenging shift. I have struggled the past four years without Jewish friends to celebrate holidays with, without a synagogue closer than an hour away, and without a direct line to my community. So when the opportunity to return to URJ 6 Points Sports Academy arose this spring, and I had to decide between pursuing a career in political science or applying for Assistant Director at camp, I knew I had to choose what I’d been missing for so long: meaningful work for the Jewish community. And there is no place in the world more meaningful to work at than 6 Points Sports Academy.
For two summers at 6 Points, I counseled the 9th grade girls dorm, Netanya, and served as an assistant coach of the soccer program. In 2018 and 2019, I not only found a community of like-minded, motivated, Jewish athletes, but I found a family. From mentors to campers to co-counselors, I felt support from everyone and quickly found myself fully immersed in the 6 Points community. I was also given opportunities to make a greater impact at camp beyond counseling and coaching that enhanced my leadership experience tenfold. I was able to make an impact on my dorm by bringing the tools I’d learned as a Cornerstone Fellow to create meaningful “lailah tov” programming, I was given the opportunity to hype up the gold sun team as a Maccabiah General, and I was selected as the 2019 “Coffee Cup Commissioner” in the soccer program. All these experiences, especially the ones where I got to closely mentor campers, impacted me in such a positive way. I felt immensely fulfilled after those two summers.
Which leads me to today! Two weeks into my tenure as Assistant Director of 6 Points Sports Academy, happy, excited and overflowing with gratitude to be back, doing meaningful work for the Jewish community. I’ve been welcomed back with tremendous kindness and I’m already kicking into gear to contribute to our amazing summer plans. Because this is the work I love. This is the community I yearn to be a part of. And I’m so glad to be back doing the most meaningful work in the world.