By Yaelle Nisinzweig, Programming Director
One day in 2000, I accidentally sat in on a promotional camp visit at my temple. About half way into the video I saw someone holding a puppy… and I was hooked. I was seven years old at the time and begged and pleaded with my parents to let me spend the summer at this mysterious Crane Lake Camp, a place where I could hold a puppy. Over the next few months I was signed up for first session, ordered cotton labels with my name printed on them to sew into everything (because why use something as simple as a sharpie), and began checking through the packing list and adding more to my bright red suitcase. While this first year is a bit blurry for me, my mom tells me she will never forget her little 8 year old on opening day, waving goodbye with a huge smile, as 14 year olds clung to their parents crying. From day one, camp was where I was meant to be.
This year marks my 15th summer at Crane Lake Camp. From lower lower Nitzanim to Senior Staff, my journey through CLC has gone from watching older campers and counselors in awe and learning traditions of camp, to being that role model and helping continue these traditions. I have watched the outdoor sanctuary rise from the hill, two rows of new bunks, the beit am, and mirpa’ah pop up, the lake expanded, a past and present community coming together to build a new Chadar Ochel, the migration of the animals program, more than five transformations of the camp logo, thousands of campers and counselors from around the world, the Rec Hall walls filling up with prideful plaques and color war banners, four assistant directors, two directors and so much more. I have seen my once college-aged counselors get married, friends who I’ve giggled with during flashlight time have become college graduates, and my Nitzanim buddies enter Olim to get buddies of their own. Yet through all of these changes and as time passes, I come back every year packed in my bright red suitcases and get that same huge smile on my face, hug my camp friends who I love as family, welcome new experiences, and dedicate myself to the time honored camp traditions.
Camp looks different from that first year in 2000, however the love that comes out of the Crane Lake community is the same. Firefly gives us all a chance to give influence to Crane Lake Camp as we pass the flame to more and more campers and counselors the more summers we spend in this community. I feel honored to have helped teach a new generation of campers because I know that even if just one of them continues to Israel, Machon, staff, and even senior staff, I have helped protect and grow the Crane Lake Camp.