The first thing that happened at camp, which has stayed with me since day 1, was on opening day, hearing the words “Havenuuuhhhh Shalom Aleichem.” I remember being shocked by the random counselors, who later became my best friends, screaming and jumping up and down, waving their hands sporadically in front of my dorm. At that moment, all my negative thoughts and doubts about my first summer went away. From then on, I had an amazing first camp experience and couldn’t wait to come back.
The next two summers, I met three people that forever changed not only my camp experience, but my life.
In Ein Gedi I met one of my best friends, Drew Buxbaum. Drew and I immediately clicked and connected through our love of basketball. We would always talk to each other during meals, play 1v1 every chance we could get, and even ran the 5k together. At the end of the session, Drew gave me the most meaningful bracelet I have ever received at camp. I vividly remember him getting up in front of our whole dorm and giving me a teamwork bracelet, with tears in his eyes. Drew might think of this moment as embarrassing, but it meant and means so much more to me. Ever since then, I have always considered Drew as one of my closest friends, no matter how little we talk during the year. It’s crazy how 6 summers ago, we became so close and now we are Alligators speaking together tonight.
The next summer at camp, I found my two main constants, my friends and basketball. As for my friends, I became extremely close with my now roommate and best friend, Izzi. We would do everything together and enjoyed each other so much that we stayed all 6 weeks. I treasured our late night deep conversations when everyone else was sleeping and our early morning workouts where we pushed each other to the limit. Izzi inspired me to be the best version of myself not only on the court, but off the court as well. I matured as a person the more I talked to him and he gave me the confidence to be the best basketball player I could be.
As for basketball, that summer I officially met the best coach I have ever known, Coach Arsenio. Coach and I have a special relationship, which initiated when we first connected through our major and better bounce. Our relationship was so strong because Coach Arsenio not only helped me get to the next level, but he put his trust and faith in me. Whenever I feel that I am in a bad place, Coach is always just one voice message away from being there, despite living across the world from me. I still remember Coach dunking a tennis ball and then giving it to me, not realizing how I would later ask him to sign it. I then treasured that ball, putting it in a glass box on the top of my desk, where it still sits today. For me, Coach Arsenio isn’t just my coach, but my role model. I have always looked up to him and will forever thank him for having confidence in my ability when no one else did.
For the next three summers at camp, I have continued to grow my social circle and cherish every happy moment I could. As I have gotten older, my perspective of camp has changed and made me question why 6 points is so special. What I have finally realized as an Alligator is that camp is so special because of these meaningful connections that we create. These connections with our friends, counselors, and coaches are not only extremely important at camp, but are so much bigger than just camp itself. The special bonds we form can last years because camp brings us together, as one family. I can still facetime my Lod counselor, Daniel Shabsin, and talk to him about anything because I know he will always be there for me. Even though we haven’t talked in over a year, we created such a special relationship that I can count on him to be there for me. I obviously want all of you to cherish your time at camp but more importantly, I want everyone to understand that camp is special because of each one of you. 6 points wouldn’t be complete without the people; which is why I continue to come back every summer. Because of all of you.