Why Camp is Home to Me

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When I rolled up to camp last Summer, I didn’t feel like I fit the mold. Being born and
raised in Wisconsin, I had never been to the Pacific Northwest and, more importantly, I’m not
Jewish. In fact, I’m not sure how many Jewish people I had met before coming to camp.
I had nothing going in mid June and I wanted to try something new. To make a very long
story short, 11 days after my interview with camp, I arrived at Kalsman to be a bunk counselor.
I knew my experience was going to be extremely different than anything I was used to
and I made the decision to fully accept and dive into the culture of camp, rather than being
scared of it.

For the first time in my life, I wasn’t judged or looked down upon for being different. I
was embraced by the staff, even though they had many questions as to who I was and what I was
doing here. I made strong connections with my campers that are still strong this Summer.
Camp Kalsman is home to me because it’s the first place where I was welcomed with
open arms and with no judgment. I love the culture and messages of Reformed Judaism and I fell
in love with the songs, services, and teachings. Shabbat has become my favorite part of camp
where I can fully express my joy with my campers. I cherish the moments I have with my staff
and campers and I fully acknowledge and appreciate without the amazing counselors we have
here, camp would not be even close to what it is.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not Jewish, because family isn’t dependent on blood, religion,
or anything tangible. Family are the people you look forward to seeing every day and people
who love you regardless of who you are. My family is at Camp Kalsman, and Camp Kalsman is
my home.

By Alex McNall, Kochavim Unit Head