The new director of youth and camp engagement at Congregation Beth Or reflects on how her past experiences as a camper shaped her into the confident, easygoing person she is today.
Manayunk resident Jillian Glick, 29, enjoyed her childhood summers at Sesame/Rockwood Day Camp so much that she decided to become the director of youth and camp engagement at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen. Her tribute to camp has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Fifteen glorious summers at camp.
My overnight camp-going friends teasingly say that I talk about day camp as if I went to “real camp.” But just because I didn’t enjoy the glories of sleeping on a thin mattress and showering in my flip-flops doesn’t mean my camp experience wasn’t equivalent to — or even better — than theirs. I showed pride in being color war captain, I participated in pudding eating contests and I made lifelong friendships that I will always cherish.
My experiences at camp shaped me into the person I am today. I am confident, easygoing and positive. And I love making friends.
Ropes course taught me to swallow my fears and climb over the big, scary wall. Leading a team in color war taught me to lead and work with others. It also taught me the important skill of learning to lose.
Having activity periods taught me to choose things I truly enjoyed, not just things my friends were doing. (I attribute my amazing friendship bracelet-making skills to this.) It taught me that camp is a place where everyone is accepted and welcomed with open arms.
For these joys, I thank “Uncle” Howard and “Aunt” Dale Batterman of Sesame/Rockwood Day Camp in Blue Bell. Those 15 priceless summers will carry through my life forever. I would like to thank them not only for shaping me into who I am today, but also for leading me to my current job as the director of youth and camp engagement at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen.
Who would have thought that all these years later, part of my job would be to run a camp of my own?
This summer I spend my days running Camp Chaverim at Beth Or’s early childhood center. We have 87 campers ages 3 months to 5 years. We have a sports program, a pool staff, arts and nature, music and even an awesome Lego-building program. We have 15 engaged CITs and a staff of 35 happy counselors. We have special programs each Wednesday and we celebrate Shabbat together each Friday morning.
The best part — I get to watch it grow and evolve. And I get to be in charge of that change.
I may not have experienced the joys of overnight camp, but day camp did its job in making a future leader in our Jewish community. Sesame/Rockwood will always be home to me. Now, Camp Chaverim will be another home, and hopefully home to many young campers for years to come!