Infusing “Warm and Fuzzies” Into My Everyday Life

“I was a Tamaracker for twenty-two years. I’m twenty-three. My mom (perhaps you know her as “Shabbat Shalom, Dina!”) supervised Jewish Programming for over 10 years and as a result, I transitioned from a crib to a bed in Staff Housing.  When reading evaluations about me as a young camper, I discovered that when I was in Shiffman, I encouraged the other campers to come to me, not the staff, with questions, since I was the camp expert. Looking back however, it turns out I had more to learn than teach.

I learned to be aware of why I like and admire people, and to share those reasons with them. I learned this lesson from counselors who could articulate why I was special during paper plate ceremonies, and by telling friends how they influenced my week around havdalah campfires. I continued to learn it as a staff member from supervisors who supported evaluations with details and constructive feedback (and sometimes, upon request, psychoanalyses) and from co-staff in late-night teeth-brushing conversations. I learned and experienced the importance of giving positive feedback to my own campers and staff. I now try to infuse the values of “warm and fuzzies” (end of summer letters) into my leadership style year-round. As a camper and friend once told me, one little personal compliment can help you up a mountain. She meant it literally, but I think it makes a great metaphor too.

Last summer was the first in my memory that I  didn’t spend at camp.  Tamarack has made its way into school essays and my college graduation speech, and my camp friendships are the ones that have endured the test of distance. Though I won’t be sleeping in a Eureka tent come July, I will be living camp values as I build relationships and interact with others. And, as I watch my own campers turn into staff, I know these lessons will also continue to influence others down the line. In some ways, camp never ends. I will never stop being a Tamaracker.”

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