Final Day of Shutaf Camp – From Joelle Lang

Last day!

You can tell by the excitement and craze this morning around camp that it is the last day.

For me, it is a bittersweet day.  While the campers enjoyed a day full of activities- (animals, “Super Charlie” and his amazing circus, a messibut siyum where they performed and watched their friends act, sing and dance,)- I sat with my computer in the middle of the Merkaz Kangaroo building, writing up my last thoughts on camp while receiving many visits from the many campers I befriended during my time here at Shutaf.   Campers with beautiful hearts and bright futures, who gave me the chance to add meaning to my summer, to give back to the land that has given so much to me.  Campers I truly feel indebted to for welcoming me so warmly at Shutaf.

Two years ago, I came to Israel for ten months for selfish reasons.   I came to study the Torah and tour the amazing country, to find myself in the land of my forefathers.  I came for me.  This trip, I wanted to come for others, to help and return some of the amazing experiences that Israel has given to me.  I am on track for a major in journalism at the University of Maryland, and I figured the best way to give back would be to use my best skill, writing.  After coming across Shutaf, with help from Skilled Volunteers, I sat with the directors at Shutaf and we decided that I would follow a different bunk every day and write about my experience each afternoon for the camp’s blog.  After my first day, even my first hour at Shutaf, I discovered the magic that lives within its walls. The camp is like an oasis in Tzomet Pot; like a big heart beating in the center of Israel.  Since then, I have done my best to expose Shutaf for the amazing home it is.   I am extremely grateful to the Shutaf staff and campers for giving me the opportunity to take part in something so incredible this summer.

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Once again, however, I feel selfish.  I have been so blessed to be a part of a camp like Shutaf.  The counselors and campers are a different breed from the average person; they emanate love and warmth.  The counselors come to camp with such high energy, they completely set the mood for their bunks for the day.  The campers look up to them so; you can see it by the way they always want to be close to them, showing them the projects they did, sitting on their laps, hanging off their backs.  The campers also show such love and respect for each other – what a special camper it is that attends a camp like Shutaf and wears a sincere smile all day.  The counselors love their campers and the campers absolutely adore their counselors.  You can feel the mutual closeness in the air.  I felt blessed to be able to have watched and experienced such a connection.

Shutaf is such a special place.   I have gained so much from working here.  It was an experience I will never forget, because Shutaf will be in my heart forever.  I only wish the best for the future of Shutaf, a future I hope I can be a part of.

Thank you Shutaf, Behatzlacha!

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