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Friday, December 1, 1995

Thanks to Staff

        
                                                                                                                     December 1995


Dear GUCI Staff (As Count Basie said, “One more time…”):


In my travels around our regions and wherever I encounter one or more of the 500 alumni now receiving these staff letters, I am always impressed with the tremendously warm feelings that we have for our camp and the friends you’ve made during your summers here.  Personally, I have always felt that even one summer here as a staff member cements a connection that most other experiences never approach.  I feel a very special relationship with people who have shared that staff struggle and programmatic and personal victory we realize during the course of each summer at Goldman Union Camp.

The struggles and ultimate growth in character and knowledge and commitment continue for our staff members, summer after summer.  We reap the rewards today, for the gifts former counselors and unit heads gave so abundantly to their campers in the past.  How so?  As plans take shape for our Leadership (formerly Top Deck) Staff for 1996, it is heartwarming to report that our Shoresh, Gezah, Anaf, Camp K’ton and Avodah Unit Heads, along with our Program Director, all began their involvement here as either Shoresh or Gezah campers.  Perhaps they were in your cabin, or Chug, or swim class somewhere along the way.  Now these former campers take over the helm.  They will be making it all happen for the next generation of campers/staff/leadership staff.

We need your financial support to maintain this Jewish continuity here at our camp.  This winter we begin a project to rebuild the rooms and apartment over the Beit Am.  The new living quarters will house Unit Heads and Specialists.  The old rooms and apartment are not usable now, and we need the space desperately.  This $25,000 project would just about be covered if each of sent in a $50.00 check.  Your contribution, more or less than the $50.00 I mentioned, will be greatly appreciated.  If the GUCI Staff Letters mean anything at all to you, please help us with this most important project.

Thanks,

Ron

Final Havdalah

                                                                                              December, 1995


Dear GUCI Staff:


There is a little known tradition, which has grown here at camp.  It’s a long beautiful tradition, which never ceases to move me and stay on my mind long after the joys, and trials of the summer subside.  For the past several summers, the staff that has remained in camp after Kallah Bet, to work OVFTY Institute (now called NFTY Institute) has come together on that final Saturday night for a festive meal and last Havdalah service.  It’s the Havdalah that clings to my emotional memory.

The week of NFTY Institute is a sort of detox for the staff who have been in the camp the proceeding nine or ten weeks.  To some degree we experience withdrawal from the intensity of regular camp.  Although we miss the action and involvement of Kallah, the need fulfillment we provide our younger campers (and the ego gratification they often give us), it is good to slowly come out of the fog of fatigue that has engulfed us.  During “Tute” we are still involved in program, we still attend T’fillot, do Shmira, live at camp, work in the Chadar Ochel, etc.  But the pace is slower, Aruchat Boker later, we sleep more, we recover.

As the week nears its end, it is inevitable that the full-summer staff begins to turn its thoughts to the fall and school or work; the profane.  The Havdalah service that week separates more than just that Shabbat from the coming week, it marks the end of camp and the beginning of life after camp.  It seems to have a lot more significance than most Havdalah services.  This summer the twenty or so of us sat on the benches and floor of the Merkaz Tochnit, the porch of the Chadar Ochel for the service.  It was around midnight.  We lit just the Havdalah candle, sat in a circle, tasted the wine, smelled the spices, admired the flame.  It was a quiet and somewhat poignant moment.  The tradition is to spend some moments during the service talking about the summer.  Anyone is free to speak, and most are moved to do so.  It has become a lovely interlude in which we collectively express our pride for the accomplishments of the summer, our strong sense of community and friendship, our hopes for health and happiness in our out-of-camp lives which are about to commence.  This particular Havdalah has become for me, in a very positive sense, an emotional highlight of the summer.  It is a good way to close.

To some degree the staff that works that last week feels as though they are the “survivors” of the summer.  Many of them began as part of the opening crew, arriving at camp before even the Leadership staff.  They cleaned; moved bunk beds, painted, and in general, dug the camp out of a long winter of inactivity.  Then these same kids became counselors, unit heads, and specialists for the long haul of camp.  Now they find themselves sitting on the floor of the Merkaz, looking at the reflection of the Havdalah candle on the faces of their colleagues, closing a chapter in GUCI’s history.  It is at once a triumphant and somewhat sad moment. 

It seems to me that during that final Havdalah of the summer, the wine is a little sweeter, the spices more pungent, and the flame a little brighter than usual.  But when the flame is extinguished, the darkness seems unusually deep as well.

Ron

Rebuilding the Beit Am

                                                                                                                 December 1995

Dear GUCI Staff (As Count Basie said, “One more time…”)

In my travels around our regions and wherever I encounter one or more of the 500 alumni now receiving these staff letters, I am always impressed with the tremendously warm feelings that we have for our camp and the friends you’ve made during your summers here.  Personally, I have always felt that even one summer here as a staff member cements a connection that most other experiences never approach.  I feel a very special relationship with people who have shared that staff struggle and programmatic and personal victory we realize during the course of each summer at Goldman Union Camp.

The struggles and ultimate growth in character and knowledge and commitment continue for our staff members, summer after summer.  We reap the rewards today, for the gifts former counselors and unit heads gave so abundantly to their campers in the past.  How so?  As plans take shape for our Leadership (formerly Top Deck) Staff for 1996, it is heartwarming to report that our Shoresh, Gezah, Anaf, Camp K’ton and Avodah Unit Heads, along with our Program Director, all began their involvement here as either Shoresh or Gezah campers.  Perhaps they were in your cabin, or Chug, or swim class somewhere along the way.  Now these former campers take over the helm.  They will be making it all happen for the next generation of campers/staff/leadership staff.

We need your financial support to maintain this Jewish continuity here at our camp.  This winter we begin a project to rebuild the rooms and apartment over the Beit Am.  The new living quarters will house Unit Heads and Specialists.  The old rooms and apartment are not usable now, and we need the space desperately.  This $25,000 project would just about be covered if each of us sent in a $50.00 check.  Your contribution, more or less than the $50.00 I mentioned, will be greatly appreciated.  If the GUCI Staff Letters mean anything at all to you, please help us with this most important project.

Thanks,

Ron