Blog  What It Means To Be Olim

What It Means To Be Olim

By Ellie W & Gus B, Olim ’18 

Ellie: When I came to CLC in Lower Chaverim, I didn’t know much about or think about Olim. To me, they were large campers who stood for the majority of T’filah, were overly energetic, and made big ‘O’s with their arms. From the outside, it looked like Olim was an exclusive bunch of weirdos. However, now I understand that it is so much more.

Gus: When I first came to Crane Lake in Lower Nitzanim, I was extremely intimidated. In fact, I was flat out scared of the Olim. They were teenagers with facial hair and I was a small kid with glasses and buck-teeth. I guess I thought I was their natural prey or something. Then, shortly after getting paired with my Olim buddy from 2012, I realized that I could not wait for my Olim summer.

Ellie: Going into this summer, I didn’t know what to expect at all. Honestly, I had a mini-existential crisis: What was Olim? How could I become a leader at camp? As the days went on, I then had what some might call an epiphany around Fight Song time. I understood that Olim summer was all about making the most out of your time with the people that you love at your favorite place on Earth. It’s about understanding that freaking out over minute issues and irrelevant dramas are a waste of the diminishing time that we have left as campers. Most importantly, this summer is about making sure everyone around you is having their most incredible summer yet, and, in return, your summer becomes more worthwhile. I took this concept to heart when I was elected to lead Olim ’18 in our Fight Song, when I was assigned my Nitzanim buddy, and at the start of my first Maccabia meeting. I find it incredibly important to remember to have fun with the moments that are thrown at you and often knock you off your rocker. That’s the summer that we signed up for. Moreover, Olim summer is what you make of it; with every little bit of Chesed and a whole lot of Ruach. Olim summer is truly unforgettable.

Gus: I waited for Olim summer for 7 years and suddenly, it came. For years I was waiting to be a Color War captain, to get my Nitz buddy, to live in bunks 28 & 29 (the Olim bunks), and it went by so much faster than I expected. Olim summer has transformed my perspective on camp in its entirety in so many ways. In my earlier camp years, I never understood the importance of T’filah for every morning. It seemed like a drag up until 2018. T’filah became about bringing camp together and sharing a holy space with each other. Now, I even have a new appreciation for Havdallah that wasn’t quite there before. Additionally, sleep is more valuable then it ever was, activities are exhilarating rather than draining, and I even discovered that I was pretty decent at tennis! Most significant was the moment when Olim ’18 wore all black to our first song session of the summer: I realized that we were truly united, and all eyes were on us. I want nothing more than to ensure that future Olims have a similar transformation. I see it as our job- my job, as an Olim camper.

Both: Although individual camp experiences moved us each in different ways, we all observed the elder Olim campers and how they took on newfound leadership roles. Each year, we were unconsciously learning how to make our Olim summers just as meaningful and fun as theirs seemed to be. Upon becoming Olim, we realized that our camp experience culminated in one final summer. Olim translates roughly to “ones who rise up” – this serves as the meaning that we were taught by our counselors and unit heads. It means that years worth of stepping out of our comfort zones, facing challenges and attacking them head-on with dignity, was just preparing us for Olim; becoming the newest leaders at camp.