Camp Professionals 08.15.18

A Letter to My Summer Camp Staff

To my summer camp staff,

There is nothing that bothers me more than when you say “I need to find a real job next summer.”

The opposite of “real” is “fake.” When you say this, you are implying that the work that you are doing doesn’t have meaning and might as well not exist. This past summer, you have in fact done quite the opposite.

When you work at camp you are truly affecting the lives of your campers and the people around you – teaching them how to have self-confidence, teaching them how to try things that are out of their comfort zone, and teaching them how to create community.

But what frustrates me the most when you say that camp is a ‘fake’ job is that you are implying that being authentically happy in your career, or in your life, isn’t a possibility. I have heard you say that at camp you are your real self —however, you also believe it is a fake job. I want you to know that you do not have to be in some utopia to be your real self. You do not have to be at camp to be your real self. Camp is a vessel to help you find your real self. But it is NOT the only place for the real you to exist.

Maybe next year you need to find a job that will help your resume in your field of choice. Maybe next year you will find a different opportunity that you cannot pass up. That is fine. But you are not entering the real world. You have been in the real world the whole time. Use what you have learned from camp to help lift you up rather than tear you down. Your contributions to campers’ lives have not gone unnoticed and have been anything but fake.

All my love,


Abby Kirshbaum is currently the Assistant Director at Camp TEKO, a day camp owned and operated by Temple Israel in Minneapolis, MN. Abby attended Herzl camp for 12 summers and has recently joined the Herzl Camp Board of Directors. In 2016, Abby interned with the Foundation for Jewish Camping Event Staff during the Leaders Assembly. Abby is passionate about Jewish Camp and knows that learning is best accomplished while having fun!