It’s hard to think about another ending at Camp Coleman. Over 30 years ago, a shy boy from the Deep South went to SEFTY Camp for my first week at the place so many of us call home. I didn’t know much about SEFTY, camp or the journey I would take to get to where I am today.
Over the years of SEFTY, Camp Coleman, camp committee meetings, camp drop offs and just dropping in, I have spent over a year of time cumulatively at Coleman.
That first summer, saying goodbye wasn’t that difficult but I do recall the sadness that some of the older high schoolers felt in that first friendship circle. It’s always a unique period of reflection when I drive up the hill and back on to Highway 129 knowing that the time I spent around Lake Shalom had so much impact on how I live my life.
Things change when you become a parent of a camper and year 1 was filled with anxious excitement. After my daughter’s 2nd year, I could see in her dirty face that she had been hooked. Since then, I have been more sad about the end of camp than the beginning. Camp is her home, without all of the stress that we put on our teens. This past summer was her last as a full-fledged camper in Cleveland, GA, but I am pleased that her Coleman journey will continue in Israel this summer and at the Machon Leadership program the year after. For her, saying goodbye mirrors what it did for me every summer.
As I wrap up my term as chair of the camp committee, I’d rather not focus on goodbye. I hope that the changes made in the last three years will lead to even more success in the future. We have adapted the structure of our committee, focused more on Alumni and received donations to build a new performing arts center for Camp.
But today, I want to focus on the future. I’m as excited for Camp’s next chapter as I am every time I see mile marker 14. The one thing that I am most sure about is that I’m leaving the camp committee in great hands with our newest Camp Committee Chair, Todd Gordon. He is going to do great things, but like so many before, can’t do it alone. I urge you if you’ve ever thought about getting involved with camp and are willing to roll up your sleeves, NOW is the time. If you’re interested, let Todd or me know.
So for now, I’ll say farewell, but I’m not going far. I’m as committed to Camp Coleman as I’ve ever been because it is a giant part of who I’ve become. I’ll still be around for the committee meetings and the construction of the PAC and even though I don’t have a camper this summer, I’ll be in Helen the night before opening day.
I guess it’s still too hard to say goodbye.
– Bert Rosenthal