By Ashley Schlaeger
There is a power in this place and time
It shapes the rest of our lives
And when we return each year we find
A truth we can’t deny.
Dan Nichols, Chazak
This was one of the first quotes I heard at camp, and I always questioned what it meant. I have been a camper at Goldman Union Camp for 6 years, and I am incredibly excited to be coming back to camp in just a few short weeks!
There’s something about the Jewish connection at camp that I cannot explain. Whether it’s making pita bread or Israeli dancing on Friday nights, leading a cabin service or putting our arms around one another at song sessions, every year the Jewish connection gets stronger. I’m going to be in Anaf, the oldest unit on camp this year, and I know that experience will offer me more even more Jewish opportunities and identity. I look forward to more prayer, deeper texts and really learning more about being a Jew.
I am also looking forward to renewing my GUCI friendships this summer; those people are what always make me want to go back. I remember the first year I went to GUCI I knew one person and wondered if I would make new friends. Our counselors brought us together by dancing with all of us together at song sessions, by bonding during Chaveroot (cabin time), and by encouraging us to show everyone who we really are. By the third day of camp I couldn’t leave the cabin without a friend coming with me.
I’ve always loved bunk nights. Bunk night is when campers get to spend a whole night participating in cabin activities, grilling out hamburgers, roasting s’mores and doing many other things relating to what our cabin theme is. Last year my cabin “kidnapped” the program director and gave him a makeover. It was priceless to see his faces at yucky tasting lip gloss and sparkly nail polish. By the end of each session, I’m always sad to leave my friends!
I’m excited about experiencing the musical connection at GUCI. I have been playing guitar for 6 years and every year I enjoy becoming a better guitarist because of camp. Sometimes camp can use 400 voices to create the sound of one, and if you close your eyes you can hear the beautiful harmony we produce as a community. I have also had the opportunity to learn from some amazing song leaders including the one and only Dan Nichols. GUCI has inspired me to pursue my dreams, and I hope to become a songleader and lead the camp community in singing, dancing, and prayer.
I’m also looking forward to all the different activities that I can participate in, including art, pottery, dance, sports, archery, creative writing and many more. My favorites are drama and music. My drama chug created improvised infomercials and performed in front of the whole camp! In addition, each session Anaf performs a Broadway-style musical production, Project. The musical is kept secret from the rest of camp, only unveiled the morning of the performance. This year will be my first year in Anaf and Project, and I am so excited to find out what we will be performing! GUCI is also home to the Zionsville Sympathy Orchestra. This opportunity is available two Fridays a month for people who are (or are not!) musically talented to lead Tzena during Shabbat song-session. I have played in a few times myself and enjoy watching the whole camp clap and sing as I strum my guitar.
GUCI has allowed me to explore my Jewish identity, create unforgettable moments, make new friends, and has inspired me to be myself. Only now do I understand the lyrics above and why GUCI is such a powerful place. Each year since the day I anxiously came to Zionsville for the first time I find GUCI more powerful. Goldman Union Camp has shaped my life and I know it will continue to do so.
I can’t wait for this summer!