2022 Session 1 Firefly Speech- Andrew Buxbaum

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After being told I had the honor of giving the Firefly speech, I was very excited; however, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to talk about. I knew I didn’t want to give the annual cliché speech about how time flies at camp, nor did I have any idea what else to talk about until Wednesday morning before breakfast.

Although I was a little bummed to have to come to camp with a boot and crutches, I was still exhilarated to have the opportunity to be able to spend my last summer as a camper with my best friends. Besides the fact that Covid was spreading through the upper circle and some of our friends were forced to leave the campus, all of us in Ashkelon were doing the best we could to still have a memorable summer.

The reason we were all able to stay happy and have an enjoyable time was because of one person who I look up to. This person, without hesitation, will put everyone’s needs before his own. He can connect with every single camper no matter your background or where you are from. He will push you to be the best you that you can be on and off the court, and he is also one of the hardest working people at 6 points. People like my friend and counselor for the past two years, Austin Berman, are the reasons we return to this amazing camp every year.

Unfortunately, Austin couldn’t be here tonight, but I would like to dedicate this Firefly speech to him. Last Wednesday, Austin tested positive for covid and had to leave without us saying goodbye. Not only was I affected by his departure, but the entire campus was.

Last year I was in Tiberias. Basketball for me was very important at this camp. Majors were a time for me to work on myself and forget about everything else. One of my goals was to make it to the top basket every year and eventually I did. One of my favorite parts of camp were the 6 am basketball workouts. Every day I would wake up before 6 with a couple of friends and compete and practice at a higher level than the regular morning major. At first there were a lot of kids, then the next day there were a little less, then a little less. But each time I’d see some familiar faces. There was one counselor that I saw every single time… and that was Austin. No matter how much sleep he had gotten the night before he always showed up with the best attitude.

My journey at 6 points all started when people from our local JCC recommended my brothers and I to come to some jewish sports camp in Greensboro. Little did I know, this camp would soon change my life. Since arriving to AHA in Ein Gedi, I have formed so many special relationships with many people here tonight. Two specific friends come to mind when I think about why I come back every year.

Although I met Diego Keller last year, today I can call him one of my best friends. Despite not sharing a major or being his roommate last year, we still managed to connect. From long talks at night to bribing him to retrieve my gluten free food from the line every morning for breakfast, its easy to realize how special the bond this camp has created for the two of us. Fortunately, we were able to keep in touch over the past year and become roommates. Regardless of the many obstacles we faced this session, Diego and I stayed closer than ever.

While I met Diego last year, I’ve known Sam sharp since my first year in Ein Gedi. Arriving to camp for the first time was a very stressful and anxious experience for me. I remember driving into the campus and seeing many new faces and hearing the classic welcome song. My mom, dad, and I soon walk into  my room where I see both of my roommates balling their eyes out as they said goodbye to their parents. I was homesick for the first couple of days which I bet many of you guys can relate to. This would later change after meeting one of my dorm-mates during electives. I remember always going to the basketball elective and seeing Sam all dressed up in his baseball uniform. We would 1v1 every day and I enjoyed beating him every single time. We built a great friendship along with the many memories throughout Ein Gedi. Sam and I became best friends. Each year I would look forward to hanging out with him and making many more memories. Even though I wasn’t in the same dorm as him every year I’ve still been extremely close with him. I remember sitting next to him at my first firefly back in 2017. It’s crazy to see that him and I have come this far and both have had the honor of giving the firefly speeches today. I am lucky to have met a friend like Sam.

I’m also thankful to have had an amazing mishpacha every year but none compare to this year’s. I’ve grown up with the same kids every year and have made memories I’ll never forget. After watching my friends leave camp because of covid, I finally understood why people say to enjoy the time you have together because it doesn’t last forever. I never got to say goodbye to Austin. I also wished I could have spent the last couple of days with him at camp. However, I can say that his leadership has taught me many valuable lessons that I will carry on in the future.

The lessons I have learned at camp apply to all things in life. I never truly understood the value of Intention in sports until I got hurt and couldn’t play. Unfortunately for a lot of us, we don’t realize what is so special in our lives until it is taken away. That being said, always take advantage of the relationships you make with anyone.  This doesn’t only have to be at camp. Six points is my second home because of the people I’ve met. However, at home this applies too. Make sure to always be grateful to your family, parents, and siblings because life is short.

This week, my brother and I received some tough news that our grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and although it was very sad, it is another reminder to love the people here and at home.

Having said that, on this last night of camp make sure to give an extra long hug to all your friends and remind them how much they mean to you. Thank you 6 points for everything this camp has done for me. Ashkelon, One last time… li li li li la tov.