Michael Kaplan is an Assistant Director at GUCI as well as a Regional Advisor for NFTY Ohio Valley.
I first met Casey in 2003 – I was in my last year of Shoresh and she was in her first year of Gezah (apparently I had a thing for more mature ladies as Casey is a whole six months older than me). One day after lunch, I mustered up all the chutzpah that I had and caught up with Casey by the big pine tree on the side of the Chadar. I asked her to be my Shabbat Walk date for the following Friday. This was met with a long look up and down, followed by a “sorry….”and then she promptly ran away from me.
It was far from love at first site, but it made for quite the story when we reconnected almost a decade later at Indiana University in Bloomington (in addition to working together on staff at camp). She had a room with air conditioning and a futon, and I had the box set of all ten seasons of Friends, so it was easy to find reasons to hang out. Friends turned into more, like turned into love and love turned into a proposal in the same spot where she first turned me down. We were married in the outdoor Beit Tefillah at camp in October 2016 by former GUCI Director, Rabbi Ron Klotz.
After a few years as a teacher in Zionsville, Indiana, I returned home to GUCI as an Assistant Director and Regional Advisor for NFTY Ohio Valley. Casey and I live on camp during the summer and in the middle of summer 2019, we had our first child, Theodore (Teddy).
Even if I didn’t currently work at GUCI, there would be innumerable ways in which camp has infused itself into our lives. Camp played a critical role in the formative years of our childhood and young adulthood– from developing our Jewish identities to instilling a sense of community and family. These things can often feel impossible to describe to someone who hasn’t been to camp, so we are eternally grateful that we have this shared experience.
We sing Teddy our favorite Dan Nichols and 18 songs as lullabies. We laugh about old shtick that would happen in the Chadar from when we were on staff together. We celebrate Judaism and what it means to us in the same ways. We simply understand this little indescribable piece of each other that molded us into who we are today, and I can’t imagine a better foundation on which to build our family.