When the returning Brits repeatedly described Camp JCA Shalom as the most magical place on earth, I didn’t believe it. But 8 weeks later, having left this magical place, I know it is the perfect way to describe it. I have never been to a location before where I felt such constant happiness and energy, for 24 hours a day. Lack of sleep didn’t even affect my mood, I would walk round permanently smiling and grinning, dancing and singing.
JCA accepts and loves everyone, no matter who you are. This is only reinforced through the inclusion programme, which I had the great privilege of being a part of. Every day at camp came with new memories and challenges, and I was luckily able to work with 3 very different age groups and units, which made my camp experience so different and exciting. The best parts of camp in my opinion are the small details. The way a child’s face lights up when the song leader Robbo announces he’s going to sing ‘Hey There Delilah’. The unique and spiritual atmosphere of the amphitheatre.
The way there is a growing number of both counsellors and campers chanting PEOPLE to promote the idea of gender equality and promoting gender identity as a social construct, when we are split by gender in song session. The way that everywhere you look, there is always a child laughing and smiling.
Camp has had a bigger impact on my life than any experience I have ever had. Every single camper and counsellor has affected me in a way. I feel and hope that I’m a better person because of camp. Camp has shown me the importance of loving and appreciating nature, my family and my friends in such a beautiful way, and I will definitely spend more time chatting to my friends in person, rather than texting them now camp is over.
I have learnt to love myself more, and embrace my inner weirdness, something I hid at home but was taught to be so proud of at camp. I will miss every single thing about camp. Even the early mornings and the sheer amount of carbs. Most importantly, the people and friends I’ve made that I will cherish forever. I would do anything in the world to be back, and I am already counting the days until I return.