This blog was originally posted on the Union for Reform Judaism's Camp Harlam website on December 22.
Last summer was an amazing summer for me, personally. I was the K’far Noar unit head with a great group of staff and a vibrant, passionate and energetic group of campers. I was sad to see it end, but I knew I was headed for a major change in my life. As second session drew to a close, I was starting to think more and more about the next phase in my professional journey. After a challenging year, I came to the conclusion that I was happiest when I was working in the Jewish Professional arena. I looked and applied for jobs and was fortunate to land at my alma mater, Indiana University, as the Program Director at the Hillel on campus. I am positive that I would have not gotten this job without my years of experience at Camp Harlam. I am one of the thousands of people who can claim how important Harlam has been to them on a social and personal level. My 14 summers at Harlam have given me some of the best friends a guy could ask for and cherished lifelong memories. I can now see how Harlam has shaped me on a professional level.
My position at Hillel is very similar to being a unit head at camp. My job is to oversee the whole programmatic experience at Hillel, very similar to overseeing a unit of staff and campers. The skills that I have developed as a leader at camp have transferred seamlessly to my work at Indiana in so many different ways. I work very closely with our student leadership. When working with passionate leaders you often have to balance many different personalities. I think it is fair to say as a unit head, managing group dynamics is a skill you develop very quickly when you are managing a large staff and working with so many unique campers. Time management and organization is also a key component of being a program director and a unit head. There are so many balls in the air, and staying organized and managing your time is vital to being a successful unit head and program director.
Jewish values are the cornerstone of Harlam and Hillel. The Jewish values that we learn and use at camp are some of the same values I bring to Hillel every day. The concept of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), Ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel) and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) are some of the values that we use at camp and at Hillel. At Harlam and at Hillel we strive to create a welcoming environment for everyone in the community. We focus of bettering the world around us with service projects and helping those less fortunate than us. We focus on our love and the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. For example, in a few days I will be staffing a Hillel Birthright trip with 55 Indiana Universiy Students. All these values are important to both institutions. My exposure and practice of these Jewish values at Harlam has made it very easy for me to bring them to Hillel and share them with the community here.
I am fortunate to be working in partnership with the URJ and Hillel as we work on engaging more Reform Jewish college students and bringing together two institutions that are vital to the future leaders of our Jewish communities. I have learned so many things at Harlam that I have brought with me to Hillel; but more than anything, I have learned at Harlam the importance of positive and meaningful relationships. If camp has taught me one thing, its that the value of a persons life is measured on the impact they have on others. I try to practice that everyday and I am thankful I have had the opportunity to learn, experience and practice that idea at Harlam.
See you at Harlam in the summer of 2014!
Jon Schulman is the Camp Harlam Summer Supervisor, and Program Director at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center at Indiana University.