CIL Roads – Take Me Home
Written By Tova Blasberg
I’ve always believed that our staff are the heartbeat of Camp. It is their love, ruach, creativity, and commitment that creates the community and magic of the machaneh. Interlaken has been my beloved community for some time now. I started Camp as an 8-year-old Shoresh camper in 1999 and just completed my 20th summer as an Assistant Director.
Over the last 10+ years, Camp Interlaken has been hiring specialists from all over the world in order to enhance our program areas. Within my role, I have the responsibility of interviewing and hand-selecting specialist staff to join our community. These specialists supervise our activity areas: theater, athletics, sailing, omanut, etc. When interviewing, I am looking for qualities beyond their qualifications within their skill sets. I’m looking for genuineness, warmth, fun, humor, curiosity, and kindness. If their faces light up when I describe the Interlaken experience, that’s usually very telling.
It is the most amazing thing watching as these specialists integrate into the Interlaken community. The majority of the specialists are not Jewish, and I always smile watching them sing along to the Birkat Hamazon and joyfully jump on Shabbat welcoming campers into the Chadar Ochel with Shalom Aleichem. Their campfire speeches at the end of the summer are some of my favorites. With the way they express their love for Camp, it almost feels as if they have grown up on the machaneh, rather than coming in as an adult. Our specialists are an important part of our family, and we are so lucky to have them make their mark on Camp Interlaken each summer.
I had the opportunity to collect some quotes from a handful of our international staff, and I am happy to share them below with you so you can have a sense of the impact that Camp made on them and the impact that they make on Camp.
Camp. Where to even start? Words can’t do justice to how much it means to me, and the experience that I have had in the North Woods since 2013. How can I explain the wonder of Shabbat, as campers smile as the night falls on our most special day of the week? Or the power of friendships and love, that transcends thousands of miles and all the years? What expression is there that I can say that sums up the pride and joy of watching my own campers continue the traditions and wonder of camp with campers of their own? Honestly, to be able to reflect on camp is impossible for me, as I can no longer imagine my life without it. It is just something that is there, a permanent warmth inside my heart, that means everything to me.
— Saul – UK
I love nature, I believe that it has the power to heal and reconnect, and I love being able to share the power of nature with campers and staff. There’s always something to learn at camp and watching campers challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zone is the biggest reward I can get from it. I love that I leave home with the desire of helping campers to become a better version of themselves, and I come back as a new version of myself thanks to them and the great friends I make on the way.
— Pau – Mexico
Camp’s been one of the places where I’ve felt the most accepted and welcomed ever! It was a self-discovery journey, where I learned the value of sharing – from knowledge to a smile – enjoyed Jewish traditions and rediscovered how to make friends. As a photographer, the most rewarding activity I got to do at camp was leading the photo chug. Getting to connect with campers through creativity, and building a safe space for imagination and curiosity, made me realize the potential that young spirits have when you encourage them. That moved my heart.
— Miguel – Mexico
Each year has been different, but what brings me back is the attitude of the kids and staff on ropes; they are awesome! I learned so much each year and every time is full of surprises and full challenges to complete. Like the kids and the staff, I have made friends for life at Camp Interlaken. I return to see my friends and make new friends!
— Fernando – Mexico
I believe in the magic of camp and consider myself incredibly blessed to be part of something that means so much to so many people. To be a part of so many lives and be there to support and encourage campers and staff alike, and watch them grow, explore, and be themselves.
I feel my happiest at camp. I feel I can be and am my best self at camp. I feel accepted for who I am and I feel the love and support surrounding all of us each and every day.
I would never have imagined I would find a family, a community and a home in the North Woods of Wisconsin. I have met so many beautiful souls from all over the world and have made friends I will treasure for life.
Camp Interlaken is so much more than a place. I am a returning international staff member because of how camp makes me feel when I am there, when I share camp with others and when I pause and remember my time spent at camp.
– Brittany McCracken – New Zealand
Hi I’m Georgia and I’m from Wales. I was Arts director at camp in summer 2022. I can honestly say that camp is the best job I’ve ever had. Camp taught me so much about myself and what I can accomplish as well as what I have to offer others. Camp found me at a time where I needed change and to experience something new and I feel like it couldn’t have happened at a better time. After just one short summer at Interlaken it already means so much to me and has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. Camp means to me lifelong friendships, family, a safe place and a place of self discovery. It’s a place where I feel like the most authentic version of me. It’s a place where core memories are created. Camp means belonging and it’s a place that helped me learn more about Judaism and gain a new appreciation of religion and what it means to different people. I can’t wait for summer 2023 to be back on the shores of Lake Finley as Program Director, where my goal is to have even more fun than last year and soak in all the positive, loving feelings that camp gives me. I can’t wait to organize evening programs that will make summer ‘23 one to remember for many years to come and make camp as special for them as it is to me. I can’t wait to be singing “Crazy Moose” with all the campers and to be seated at the opening campfire with campers old and new to kick off another summer of a lifetime. Summer ‘23 here we come!
– Georgia Lewis – UK