Friday, May 1, 1998
Wait, I've Been Here Before?
Dear G.U.C.I. Staff:
They say that a tornado sounds like a locomotive. Well, I certainly hear a similar thundering as opening day of Kallah Aleph races toward Zionsville under full steam. It never seems that we will possibly get it all together in that small window of time between the Spring rains and the arrival of duffel bags, bug spray, hopeful Jewish children, and apprehensive Jewish parents. Somehow we always make it.
As much as we are always looking ahead at Goldman Union Camp, this summer, our fortieth anniversary, we can’t help but look back. Here’s a story made for the annals of the U.A.H.C. Twilight Zone. Somewhere back during the first days of this camp, when it was a summer-long NFTY program, my first cousin, Ralph Garber, spent a summer here as Pool Director. He was a NFTY Vice President. I vaguely recall in 1958 or 59, my Uncle, his father, taking me on a trip to visit Ralph. We headed out from Chicago into the wilds of Indiana, stayed overnight in downtown Indy, and spent the next day at camp with Ralph. I really only remember swimming in the camp’s pool that afternoon (hey, I was only 12 or 13, give me a break). The trip was a small episode that I never really much thought about again.
Scroll forward to about 1980. I had already been the Camp Director here for five years when I discovered some 16mm movies in the camp Sifriya. We still had a projector in those days as we used to show movies on huge 16mm reels in the Oolam on Saturday nights (the pre-video days).
One of the movies I discovered was titled, “A Day In The Life Of an OVFTYite.” When I finally got it to run, I saw that it was filmed here at camp in those early days, and it took the audience through a typical day and week at OVFTY camp. It wasn’t until the Shabbat segment of the film that I started to hear that familiar Twilight Zone theme music in the recesses of my mind. The film took us to Israeli dancing after song session in the Chadar (sound familiar?). The camera stood stationary as the dancers hora-ed by. To my total amazement, my cousin, Ralph danced from right to left across the screen. I backed up the film and played the segment again, and then again. The trip my uncle and I had taken came rushing back to me at that point. I realized that this was that same place. I had become the Director of the camp my cousin staffed 20-some years before. That the pool I had swum in was, in fact, the Old Pool.
1958 was also the summer I began attending Union Institute in Wisconsin (I had already been a camper for a few years in other camps). The thought of all these years in camp,
coupled with the foggy recollection of a visit to an older cousin who I very much loved and looked up to, during his summer at Union Camp Institute, fills me with
a sense of continuity, and even security. I‘m proud to carry the banner for all that have forged the path before us, to lead this magnificent camp into the future, with an eye to the past. I sense the “rightness” of it all. And I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to work here in this camp with these people.
Soon the onslaught begins. Three hundred children will descend on our little camp, expecting who-knows-what, but expecting. And we will deliver. We will also spend much time commemorating our past this fortieth camp summer of ours. I guess that’s why God gave us two eyes; one to look back and one to look ahead. But our campers keep us honest, focused on the what’s real and now and crucial. Opening day 1998 thunders down upon us. Bring ‘em on!
P.S. We are jumping right into the 90’s here at G.U.C.I. Enclosed is a post card for you to return to us with your e-mail address. Next year G.U.C.I. staff letters will be sent by e-mail and posted on our website. If you’d like to continue receiving these letters, please return the card ASAP. Thanks.