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Saturday, August 1, 1992

Camp Nostalgia

                                                                                                          August 1992

Dear GUCI Staff:

Camp has come and camp has gone.  A great summer, but a whirlwind.  People often made mention of the fact that it was my eighteenth summer in Zionsville (the staff even threw a surprise Oneg Shabbat in my honor, and honoring Susan Dill’s fifteen years as our secretary, gave us gifts, special food, etc.; a gala and much appreciated occasion) but I didn’t dwell on this thought as the summer raced along.  Rather, it was a summer filled with the usual tumult of camp, complicated by terrible weather (rain and cold).  It was a “Regular” i.e. magnificent camp season.

But today, two weeks after the yippers have fled; I did something so utterly radical (for me) and as a result was transported back through my years as Director.  The experience was both emotional and somewhat overwhelming.  What was that radical act?  Was it rummaging through old staff contracts, or digging up a time capsule?  No. I simply, for the first time in all these years, cleaned out my desk.  More years ago than I can really remember, my friend, teacher, and employee (now that I look back on it I’m not sure who was working for whom), Earl Beeler presented me with an old wooden desk that he had sanded and refinished for me.  Earl was our camp’s caretaker for 37 years, and I was lucky enough to work with him his last 8.  I treasure the desk and have used it all these years.  Today, I tried to open the center drawer and couldn’t because it was so crammed with papers, photos, slides, letters, receipts, etc. etc.  So I decided to clean it out.  What a trip!

I cannot begin to describe the contents of that drawer.  I was blown away by the pictures I found, of my boys predating their Shoresh years (since I just this week delivered Jeremy to Indiana University to begin his college career, you can imagine how I was struck by seeing those pictures), of Earl on his tractor, Jim playing bass guitar in a rock band on the stage of the Oolam, of Gert in the kitchen.  Pictures I had “Put away” to look at later.  And what about those letters I found?  Letters signed Bruce, Linda, Joel (Moose), Sandford, Susan Malman, Alex Schindler, Paul Menitoff, etc.  Letters thanking me, letters asking for jobs, letters telling me jokes, letters alive with the joys and the struggles of other years at camp.

With each new envelope that I opened, and each slide I held up to the light to see, a memory jumped to mind.  The top deck wars of the late 70’s, the training and subsequent contributions of each new Program Director, Mike Weinberg and I designing the new Chadar Ochel in my study carol in the library at HUC.  The song leaders:  Lee and Ian and Dawn, David and Leslie and Joe, Elliot Strom and Steve Sher, Mike and Rob Weinberg.  Building the cabins, fixing the pool, coaxing another year out of the truck or the van.  Laughing with Amy, Shirley, the Vigrans, the Watermans, the Snyders, the Wolfs, the Rosses, Glickman, Schwartz, Hertzman, Kamin, Gottlieb, Cincinatus, Goodman, Gottlib, Freedman, Moskowitz, Bennett, Lerner.  Out of my drawer jumped the names Tzvika, and IshTov, and Barsade, and Ari Cohen.  The sudden swarm of years made me dizzy.  Each time I think of the desk, my own personal time capsule, more names march into my mind, more memories, more lives adding to camp and being touched by it.  Today I felt in my heart the whole of my eighteen years at camp.  It was a good feeling.

One other thing.  Father’s Day is always in June, while we are at camp.  Today I re-found years and years of Father’s Day cards, some handmade (by very small hands), given to me by Jeremy and Michael.  Yes, I had quite a trip today.

Ron

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