Today was the last day of our tikkun olam seminar. After spending two rough days with 50 uncooperative adolescents, we finally had a breakthrough. Today, the same 50 Campers made us remember why we were even there in the first place. Leah called it our "aha! Moment," and appropriately so. For example, today one of the kids, let's call him Craig, who had been giving me a particularly hard time showed me that he is not just an annoying 12 year old boy. He say down with me while I was making posters and started trying to sound out the words I was writing in English. He figured out "us," "today," "hope," and a few others while having trouble with words like "welcome" and "remember." Seeing how hard he was working and how innocently he was exploring new things made me remember that these youngsters are deeper than any of us thought. A few of the counselors gave stories of campers really delving into their lives and inner emotions.
These "aha! Moments" really changed how we thought about the camp experience. We started to get to know the campers are realized how important it is to teach them and be positive role models while keeping them off the streets. All of the late nights and planning, all of the back talk and disrespect were totally worth it. While yes, we had a small impact on their lives this week, they taught us so much more than we ever could have imagined.
- Rachel Gordon