News from the K’far by Mike Goldfarb, Niv ’03
It feels like yesterday that I was preparing and packing for my first summer at Palmer. I remember stuffing lots of clothes and other seemingly random items (things like water shoes, Mad Libs, and a battery-powered spray water fan come to mind) into a long, black duffel bag in preparation for my Solelim summer. I was nervous heading to the airport to make the flight up to New England from Washington D.C., unsure of what would happen over the course of the next four weeks at Camp Ramah. I still had some butterflies in my stomach after the short flight and bus ride from Bradley Airport in Hartford. We pulled through the front gates of camp on Tzad Aleph and I heard the returning campers on the bus cheering and clapping, giddy with excitement and energy. What’s this all about? I wondered.
After wandering into Bunk 8 and dropping my stuff off on a creaky bottom bunk, a shaggy haired 10-year-old named Ben Panitz approached me with a smile on his face. “Wanna play knockout?” he asked. We sprinted down to the Tzad Aleph basketball courts and began playing. That marked the start of both an incredible first summer at camp and a lifelong friendship. (Ben would eventually serve as the officiant at my wedding.)
While the memories of arriving at Palmer that summer are still fresh in my mind, it has in fact been twenty-one years since my first summer at camp. And yet, thanks to the memories and friendships I made during my years as a camper and on tzevet, Camp Ramah in New England continues to play a prominent role in my life today. After all, camp is where I met some of my best friends, role models, and mentors. It’s where I learned to take risks and try new things (like nagarut!). I learned how to read Torah at camp, and I developed an appreciation for Shabbat, ruach, and tefillah thanks to my time in Palmer. Most of all, I knew right away that I wanted to work with kids after my first summer on tzevet as a Magshimim counselor in 2005. Today, in my work as an educator and school administrator, I still think about the lessons I learned and connections I made during my time on tzevet over ten years ago.
In 2017, I joined the Camp Ramah in New England Board of Directors. This opportunity has provided me with a firsthand view into the many ways CRNE continues to change the lives of chanichim and madrichim today. It’s our hope that the News from the K’far newsletter can shed some light on exciting new programs, initiatives, and events taking place at camp. We also hope to build community, share updates from fellow CRNE alumni, and post information about relevant opportunities through the newsletter. Of course, we plan to share some funny, old-school camp photos along the way!
If you have any information, updates, or photos that you’d like to be included in future editions of the newsletter, please don’t hesitate to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org). Otherwise, I hope you enjoy our first edition of News from the K’far!