When Sam was in Solelim (entering 7th grade) in 2008 he lived in cabin three. Now, five summers later, he is a junior counselor for Solelim in cabin four. Having been a camper every summer and in Rishonim for two summers, Sam has spent a total of nine summers in Conover. Last summer, Sam spent time away from Ramah. He lived in Rehavia, Israel with a few of his camp friends, and they all worked as counselors in Jerusalem at an integrated Arab-Jewish summer camp, Project Harmony Israel. Sam learned a lot from his counselors during his nine summers at Ramah, and he’s looking forward to putting it into practice this year. So many of Sam’s counselors made a huge impact on his maturation and on the person he is today, and he’s looking forward to embodying that role for his campers.
Q: What are you most excited for this summer?
A: I’m most excited to be there for my campers. I know that some of my counselors made a huge impact on me in terms of maturing. I want to help my campers try new things and realize all the opportunities they have at camp on an every day basis.
Q: How do you see your role as a counselor?
A: For my cabin my role is to be there for the kids, because every kid has things that they want to talk about with an older counselor, someone they feel comfortable to go to and be their point person.
In terms of my role in the aidah, I take example from my Nivo counselor, Joey Portnoe, who helped me see the value of getting involved in everything camp has to offer. I used to be the camper that sat in the back. I learned to change my mindset on camp and participate in more activities. I want to help campers get into activities, which is so much more fun than thinking “I’m too cool to do this.” I want to help facilitate that and to get into every program with the campers.
A: Every summer I would come to Ramah, even when I went to a public high school. People at school would ask what I was doing going to summer camp, and it was just really hard to explain. I never considered not coming back because it was just this amazing place. I just want to make it the same for my campers.
Q: What’s your favorite place in camp?
A: There’s a spot on Halutzim hill; you can’t really see it from the top of the hill, you have to climb down. It was my favorite spot in Halutzim and it still is.
Q: Share a story from your Solelim summer.
A: My counselor, Seth Berkman, got us really into volleyball. None of us had really played before, and it’s for sure the most fun sport for me to play. I really enjoy playing it thanks to Seth.
Q: What are you doing next year?
A: I’m going on Nativ (The Conservative Movement’s academic year in Israel). Ramah helped me stay connected to my Judaism and that’s why I chose to go on Nativ, in combination with feeling that I was not quite really ready to start college. I’m really looking forward to it, especially since a lot of my friends from Ramah will also be in Israel next year.
Q: What’s after Nativ?
A: I’m going to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Business School. I’ve always wanted to start my own business. Maybe I would do accounting and open my own business here or in Israel, I’m not sure but something like that.
Q: What was your favorite summer at camp?
A: It would probably have to be Nivo. I definitely branched out more, and made new friends . I think my aidah (division) took advantage of having the most fun we could. What we did, looking back on it, it was one of the most fun experiences of my life.