A D'var by Sinai teen and Camp Jenny counselor Rianna Saslow
This will be my second year as a Camp Jenny counselor, and I know first-hand that Camp Jenny changes lives. Camp Jenny has given me so much. It has given me the opportunity to give back to my community and love every second of it. It has given me the chance to bond with the most loving and spirited campers I could imagine. But most of all, it has opened me up to an entirely new world I didn’t even know existed.
But this isn’t about me. Many of the children at F.L. Stanton are thrown into a world where they have to grow up much too fast, and they have to worry about things we don’t even think about.
A couple of years ago, there was some construction going on at Camp Coleman where Camp Jenny is held. And so there was some yellow caution tape hung up. And this little girl walks by, and she sees the tape, and she looks up at her counselor, and the girl says, “Where I come from, that means someone got shot. But not here. Not at Camp Jenny. Cause we’re safe at Camp Jenny.”
Camp Jenny gives these kids a sense of safety that many of them do not have in their own homes. For many of us, we don’t consider these things luxuries. At Camp Jenny, we’re not allowed to decorate with balloons because the sounds of them popping remind the kids of gunshots. We don’t consider a quiet night a luxury. For some kids, they can’t fall asleep at night because they’re not used to sleeping in a bed. We don’t consider a mattress a luxury. Some kids, they eat themselves sick because they simply do not understand the guarantee that they will eat another full meal that day. We do not consider a full belly a luxury. But they do.
In fact, let me ask you a question. When was the last time you had ice cream? Probably pretty recently, right? Okay, let me tell you a story about a little boy and an ice cream cone. So a couple of Camp Jenny counselors saw this kid with something oddly sticky running down the side of his leg. It turns out he had taken an ice cream sandwich and put it in his pocket, and he said that his brothers had never had ice cream before and he wanted to bring it home so that they could try it too. And this little boy just had absolutely no grasp of the concept that ice cream melts. This is something so simple yet something that so many of us don’t even think about.
Let me tell you another story, one that happened just three weeks ago. Three students at FL Stanton were making their way to the bus stop. It was just a normal morning. But on their way, three dogs attacked them. One of them died. These kids were five years old.
I think of my campers, and I love them to death. And it hurts me knowing the kinds of conditions they may be enduring right now. And for those of you who have children, I’m sure you can only imagine how their parents feel not being able to give them a safe home or a nutritious meal. But I can’t even imagine how they feel knowing that for one weekend, their children can go to Camp Jenny and will be safe and healthy and learn from role models and eat ice cream and climb a rock wall and play sally walker and be kids.
For those of you who supported Camp Jenny at the Spaghetti Dinner a few weeks ago, I cannot thank you enough for your contributions. But we need more monies if we want to give the best possible experience to the greatest number of campers. If you are interested in supporting Camp Jenny, please visit www.campjenny.nfty.org/donate/
Thank you for your generosity.
By Rianna Saslow,