By: Laura Wolfson, faculty member
Twenty years is no small thing. Think of it: Approximately 680 campers and staff per summer x 20 summers = 13,600 young people. Add in at least 6 Jewish organizations per year who use the camp off-season, and throw in a few weddings and bar/bat mitzvah’s that take place at camp. That’s a lot of people whose lives have been directly impacted by Camp George. And each one brings learning, enthusiasm, new friendships and love of their Jewish camp community home to share with their families, friends, and communities. The ripples are immeasurable.
Our celebration on Friday, September 28th at Temple Sinai drew over 250 people: current and former campers and staff, camp parents, faculty, and community supporters. Having been on faculty at camp for 17 of those 20 years, I was delighted to recognize many longtime camper families, and even some former campers and staff who, now grown up, brought their spouses and families to the celebration.
Rabbi Mikelberg and Cantor Oringel led a beautiful and rousing camp-style service together with Josh Nezon. This was followed by a very special CG20 Oneg Shabbat, complete with mini “campfire and s’more” centrepieces on every table, a clothesline hung with camp t-shirts from almost every year, and a CG20 collaborative mosaic project that had been launched at camp this past summer, continued at the alumni weekend in August, and was completed (almost) at the celebration. Designed by a group of art staff from the very earliest years at camp until the present, the mosaic bears the Torah teaching “They shall build me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them”, against a background showing the beautiful natural setting of our camp by Maple Lake. This verse tells the story of our journey: we continue to build our camp as a kind of sanctuary, and God surely dwells among us there.
The completed mosaic has approximately 18,850 pieces. It will be mounted in the new outdoor pavilion that will be built at camp. Just as thousands of small pieces in a mosaic come together to create a thing of beauty, our project symbolizes the fact that our camp community is what it is today because of the contributions of each and every person who has been part of it.
The highlight of the evening was a video and presentation honouring and thanking Karen Kollins, our beloved “KK”, who has been a guiding light and keeper of the history and spirit of camp, for the entire 20 years. In many ways, the camp’s ongoing emphasis on leadership with kindness, integrity, inclusion, participation, and Jewish values are all due to KK’s influence. It was a well-deserved and most fitting honour. Kol HaKavod, Karen!
And… See you all at CG40!