By Harrison Bleiberg, Assistant Director
Growing up, I felt like my entire life was just spent waiting for camp to start.
Every new piece of clothing I got was immediately marked with my initials in preparation for laundry days, I spent hours planning for my talent show standup comedy show, and I would excitedly call my camp friends on my landline phone as camp drew closer (when my dad wasn’t using the internet, of course). Camp was where my friends were, where I could feel like I was a part of a larger Jewish community, where I could try new things and not worry about being terrible at them when I started: a skill that would serve me well for the rest of my life.
Of course, I was very proud of my camp, URJ Greene Family Camp, and I would take every chance to inject a little “camp” into my year-round life. Little did I know; I would later have the chance to pursue an opportunity to work for the very same camp organization that helped fill fourteen of my summers growing up. When I wasn’t at Greene, I was at Mitzvah Corps and URJ Kutz Camp. Kutz is where I learned of the extensive reach of the URJ camping system, and more importantly, where I got the opportunity to develop technology skills that I use personally and professionally to this day.
At Kutz, I learned how to mix and record music; and later brought my skills to Greene where I got my first opportunity to mix sound for a live band and edit terabytes of footage featuring smiling campers and wacky activities. All of this happened simply because I had learned to not be afraid to try new things. Whenever I would edit videos for my job at JScreen, record music for short films, or mix tracks as a DJ in college, I would draw upon the skills I learned many summers ago and think back to that first time I nervously pressed record on that beat up recording console as my counselors watched intently.
I even brought my skills to my first full-time job out of college: as an Education Fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, I wrote religious school lessons like I wrote camp evening programs, managed my classrooms like I managed my bunks, and, of course, plugged the local URJ Camps to anyone who would listen.
My Jewish journey began during my first summer camp session in 2000, and I cannot tell you all how elated I am that, nearly 20 years later, I get to return to the camping world as the Assistant Director of URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy East, and help facilitate the kind of summer camp experience with a unique blend of STEM education and classic camp vibes that a younger Harrison would have loved, and that an older Harrison is proud to be a part of.