A Shabbat Letter to my Campers

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Shabbat Shalom! 

My name is Ayla and while some of you know me as the nighttime golf driver, or last session as Middle & Upper Boys Unit Head, tonight, I’d like to introduce myself as a 2015 and 2016 Haifa counselor. 

This is a letter for my campers- 

Dear Haifa Hornets, 

I feel old. So so old. Not just because four days ago I played floor hockey for twenty minutes, and as I stand here, I’m still sore, but mostly because you, my Haifa campers, my 9 and 10 year olds, are now in Kfar. You’re CITs. And hardest for me to wrap my head around, and what I want to talk about tonight, you’re counselors. 

Over the years, I’ve seen on instagram when you miraculously passed your driver’s license tests, when you went to prom, and when you graduated high school. All of those posts have made me feel, once again, so old. 

But coming to camp this summer and watching as you give Nikayon pump up speeches, count your kids before leaving for electives, and comfort campers who are having a tough day, I don’t feel old. 

I feel proud. So proud I could cry. An overwhelming, bursting pride, that I’m not sure a short letter on Shabbat will effectively communicate. 

There were days as a counselor when I was so tired. I begged you to get out of bed, I yelled when we were late for electives, and I can’t even count the number of times I had to remind you not to bang on the tables during the Shabbat birkat. And I wondered if you understood, through all the reminders and through the yelling, that all I wanted was for you to have a safe and happy summer. That all I wanted, was for you, my Haifa hornets, to be strong jewish athletes, to believe in yourself, and to know that you would always have me and each other to lean on. 

As I see you as counselors, I know that all these years later, you did understand that. Because I see you doing the same for your campers this summer.

Some of us love the song Fish Swim, others prefer a rowdy V’Shamru, but my favorite is a lesser known song by Alan Goodis called “L’Dor Vador.” which means- from generation to generation. In it, the lyrics say, “L’dor Vador, we protect this chain, l’dor vador, we protect this place.” 

Looking at you now, I know that protecting this chain and protecting this place, has been the greatest honor. In 7 years, when you see your campers as the incredible people and counselors you helped them become, I hope you feel the same. 

I love you all, and Shabbat Shalom.