Judah Altman, left, Daniel Fine and Marina Levy all packed up for the bus. (photo from Camp Miriam)
Returning to Camp Miriam every summer is like going home. The kids shouting and laughing for joy, the bright smiles of the counselors, beautiful Gabriola Island – there’s no other place like Camp Miriam.
My first summer at Miriam was 2013. I’ve returned every summer since, more in love with the place and the people each time. I’ve grown up at Camp Miriam. I’ve grown up with the people; they are some of my best friends. I’ve grown up as a person; I’m always learning about myself and the world in ever-changing new ways. Most importantly, I’ve grown up at Camp Miriam having fun – summers at camp are what I look the most forward to most and I never want them to end.
I’ve been a camper, a junior counselor, a counselor and, last summer, a counselor for the leadership training program. Last summer was my favourite summer yet, and I can’t wait for this coming summer. To me, Camp Miriam has always been special for two reasons: the first is the activities, and the second is the people.
This summer, as chinuch (educational director) on our youth-led executive team, or mazkirut, I will be in charge of activities for the entire camp. I could not be more excited. One of the main reasons I continue to return to Camp Miriam is the unique options it provides for campers. There are the classic undertakings – like swimming, soccer, art and music. But then there are the programs that few other summer camps have, such as special days where all camp activities run around a surprise theme, ocean swimming as the sun sets, Jewish learning, and a focus on social justice.
I’m also looking forward to seeing the new and returning campers bond with their cohorts and with their counselors. I know firsthand that Miriam friendships last forever. The people I’ve met at camp will undoubtedly remain my friends for the rest of my life. These are the deepest connections I have.
After two years of COVID, these connections couldn’t be more important: for counselors like me, and especially for kids. Camp Miriam empowers youth and provides a space for kids to be themselves and to continue to discover who they are. It is a place to make new friends and reaffirm old ones. It is a place to talk for hours on end about all manner of issues, and to play and be silly without fear of judgment. It is a place to learn what true friendship means.
I am excited for the summer because, once again, I will get to meet new campers and counselors and help create the community that is the essence of Camp Miriam. I also can’t wait to see all the familiar faces. I can’t wait to run memorable programming for the kids that will be fun, while also empowering them to grow as people. Camp Miriam is the most important place in the world to me – I feel so fortunate that my parents have given me the opportunity to return summer after summer.
Judah Altman is a student at Columbia University, studying philosophy and sociology. He will be chinuch, or director of education, at Camp Miriam this summer.