I want to start by sharing what an incredible summer this was. This was the first summer since the start of the pandemic that felt like we were “back to normal.” I saw the Gilboa spirit come alive in so many moments – types of moments we haven’t been able to prioritize in the past few years because of the threat of covid. Of course, we still had our fair share of battles against strep and scag (Seasonal Cold at Gilboa), but nevertheless we persisted!
Some of my favorite moments from this summer were: tzevet (staff) putting on a benefit "concert for the cure" of strep, kids passionately sitting and singing in the misrad (office) to protest the King and Queen on our French Revolution-themed Yom Meyuchad (special day), kvutzot (age groups) writing their own cheers, helping kids be Rosh (head of camp) for a day, singing love-themed kumzitz (sing-a-longs) at the medurah (fire) pit, kids creating their own public transportation system using the wheelbarrows, watching kids come out of their shells, and so much more.
Now the summer's over and everyone is headed back to their so-called “normal lives” – starting school, going to work, seeing friends and family from home. But for the past bunch of years, Gilboa has been my normal life even after the summer ended. I would come home from camp in August, take a short (but much-needed) break, and then resume doing Gilboa work in the fall – in addition to school and whatever other work I was doing. Though the end of each summer was sad, hysterically sobbing through all those goodbyes and thinking about how long everyone would have to wait to be back at camp, I was reassured by the thought of picking back up again and working towards the next summer. I would take some time to think about the summer, all the good moments, the hard ones, and the feedback that chanichimot (campers) and tzevet (staff) had given – and eventually I would start thinking of ideas to make the next summer even better.
This summer, I left Gilboa knowing that I wouldn’t be just picking up where I left off. Saying goodbye to all the kids and tzevet, I knew that it was more of a real goodbye. And I feel like to an extent, this whole summer has been one big goodbye. Throughout every Shabbat, special day, kids coming and going, I thought to myself “Wow, I can’t believe this is my last ______.” Telling my last Rosh story on Shabbat with tears uncontrollably pouring out, I was reminded that this would be the hardest goodbye I would have in all my 13 years at camp. Every moment felt like it carried so much. I wanted so desperately to feel satisfied and complete by the end of this summer, and though I did end up with these feelings, I realized that I didn’t need to be chasing after that.
Gilboa has shaped my entire life and who I am as a person, and that doesn’t just go away. Gilboa taught me so much about confidence, empathy, and leadership - giving me countless opportunities to share my experiences and opinions, work through difficult situations, bring my passions, and create changes that I wanted to see at Gilboa and in other parts of my life. Gilboa always taught me that I could do a lot more as a young person than the rest of the world thought.
If you had asked me 5 or 10 years ago if I would be Rosh at Gilboa, I would have probably laughed. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I would be Rosh twice at Gilboa, I would have probably laughed even harder. I’m not sure what I’ll do next with my life or where I’ll be during my summers, but I do know that Gilboa will forever be with me wherever I go and I will never stop feeling grateful for everything this community has brought to my life. I am so excited to see what will come next and I can’t wait to visit!
Much love (like really so much love),
Natasha Marder <3