By Natalie Barman, NFTY-STR Member and Camp Jenny Volunteer
One evening this past year at Camp Jenny, I was saying goodnight to my campers. Anaiia was the last camper I said goodnight to. Earlier that day, I had unpacked her clothes. Now her clothes were in a heap next to her shelves. I asked her why she had messed up her clothes.
“Because we’re going home soon,” said Anaiia, looking at me with solemn eyes.
I shook my head. “It’s not about that though. We’re going home soon, but it’s about making the most of the time we have here.”
On the day the campers left, my girls were crying and begging to stay. I hugged them all and reassured them. Anaiia was last to say goodbye. She always had sad eyes, but today she had a sad heart. She told me that I was right and that she loved it here.
I am not sure what Anaiia meant when she told me I was right. Maybe I was right that kickball is fun or that ice cream sandwiches are delicious. But I would like to think that I was right that in the three days that we are there, Camp Jenny could mean a lifetime of change.
This seemingly minor story says a lot about the impact Camp Jenny has on both the campers and the volunteers. All of my campers meant so much to me, yet I may not see some of them ever again. This idea is scary, but I am confident in saying that although I may not have left them with a “See you next year!”, I was able to leave them with life-long skills that they may not have otherwise gained.
There are not enough euphoric words in the English language to describe the joy that accompanies volunteering at Camp Jenny. The only way to truly know what this means is to fill out an application and experience it yourself. Mark your calendars — applications are now available! Learn more and register today!
Camp Jenny is a four day camp held over Memorial Day weekend at URJ Camp Coleman. It is sponsored by NFTY-SAR and NFTY-STR , and subsidized by Camp Coleman. Camp Jenny is run by Reform Jewish youth from across the Southeastern United States. The campers are elementary-aged students from the inner-city of Atlanta. Learn more and register now at www.nfty.org/campjenny.