by Beth Blick, Cheerleading Clinic Specialist
I have been asked two questions a multitude of times over the last few months when I told people that I would be gone for part of the summer. “I’m going to Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Georgia. I’m going to be teaching a cheerleading clinic.” “You’re going where? And for what?” I was all too happy to tell anyone who asked all about my summer plans.
As a child, I spent three summers at a predominately Jewish overnight camp. I spent those three summers crying for my mom. I didn’t realize until it was too late that those were three of the best summers of my life.
I have known for many years that I wanted my children to experience overnight camp, and I wanted it to be in a Jewish setting. I wanted my children to have the best summers of their lives, but to know it as they experienced it.
And so I found myself being introduced to Camp Coleman and Bobby Harris in February of this year. I teach Religious School at the synagogue which house Coleman’s winter office and was intrigued when I learned that an amazing summer camp was so close by. I couldn’t wait to find out more about Camp Coleman.
I made it very clear to Bobby in my interview that I would be willing to do almost any job at camp in order to get back to the summer camp environment. Fast forward to April when I got the call offering the position of Cheerleading Specialist….Yes! Please and thank you! Cheerleading Specialist it is.
I excitedly told my six year old son, Mason, that he and Mommy were headed to summer camp for two weeks. Mason was thrilled! I was nervous. Here I am, 34 years old and heading back to camp. Now I was going to be a first time staff member and a first time parent to a camper. I knew almost no one. Mason knew absolutely no one. Would we have fun? Would we thrive? Would we make friends?
The answer to all of these questions was YES! This has been the best two weeks. We have had a ball. There has not been a single day where we haven’t spent the day smiling, happy, and enjoying our experiences. I have loved every minute of time spent with the children who chose cheerleading as their sport, as well as every minute of time spent meeting the children who did not choose cheerleading! Mason spends his evenings telling me about of the “cool stuff” he did during the day.
We were welcomed as family with open arms by everyone. Mason was a Yeladim camper and was so lucky to be paired with unbelievably loving, patient, and devoted counselors. He was also very fortunate to be at camp with children who were sweet and kind and loved to have fun. The group of specialists I worked with are amazing, fun, friendly, and talented people. As a staff member, I was so privileged to work with these people, and as a parent, I couldn’t have been happier that they were helping to teach Mason valuable skills. This group of specialists were like local celebrities to Mason!
As far as thriving…we didn’t just thrive here, we learned and grew. Camp Coleman is such a wonderful addition to Mason’s Jewish education. T’filah and Shabbat services were amazing. Each service was different and had a specific purpose and focus. At our first service, I watched Mason listen to the explanation of why we close our eyes for the Shema. When we started to say the prayer, I peeked at Mason. He had his eyes closed as he recited the words. When one of the unit heads spoke at a service about taking a moment during silent prayer to connect with yourself, or nature, or G-d, I watched Mason look at the clouds and be still. Not only has it been a wonderful experience for me, but watching Mason learn, enjoy, and get meaning out of Jewish programming has been magical.
Finally…friends. Would we make friends? My goodness! That family welcoming we experienced has led us to some great people. We have made friends this week that I am sure will last us a lifetime. The inclusiveness of the camp family has made us feel like we were at home.
Even in ten days time, Coleman feels like a home away from home. My nervousness was unfounded. This place is phenomenal. I have enjoyed my time here as a staff member and Mason has enjoyed his time in Yeladim. We are already planning for next summer and are looking forward to coming back!
PS Check our Facebook page for a video of some campers enthusiastically doing some cheerleading!