Over the summer, I got the opportunity to attend the first-ever session of Camp BBYO, at the iconic Perlman camp. I had been dreaming of stepping foot on Perlman for many years, and the joy I felt when I arrived far exceeded my expectations.
While my time at Perlman was limited to only one week, I made the most of everything and made it feel like a lifetime. As the bus pulled onto the campgrounds, I immediately spotted the Perlman tree and the fence with Perlman written on it. I felt nothing but excitement as we turned in and parked. We started to get our stuff out and get settled in, and as soon as I started introducing myself to other kids and started looking around, I knew I was at home. This was a feeling unlike anything I had ever experienced.
The day after we arrived, it was Friday, and we started to prepare for Shabbat. I started to become even closer with many of the other campers as we decorated the dining hall, made centerpieces, and set the table. As we started to ring in Shabbat with pictures in front of the Perlman tree, Kabbalat Shabbat, dinner, and of course, shabbos cake, I found a new connection within my soul and heart. Within only one day of being at camp, I could feel the bonds that I had made were so strong. I could only imagine how they would grow within the six remaining days.
Standing around the lit tree with our arms around each other for Shabbat Shira and Havdalah was so magical, and truly an experience like no other. Nevertheless, I still continued to feel the magic grow and grow as the week went on. Through activities like relay races and our daily creative corners, I was able to be with smaller groups and develop stronger bonds with those kids. I was constantly hanging out with them and playing as a team. Separates, which we had only three days after arrival, gave us the opportunity to get to know our fellow BBG campers and create a strong bond and sense of community. We could bring this along with us throughout the rest of the week. Even in the simplest activities, like laying in the beds of Dorm 11 with my best friends, talking and laughing, I simply just felt like I belonged.
No matter what the activity was, it brought out a new trait in me. I found myself trying things I had never done before, and that I would have never done if it weren’t for my newly made friends cheering me on. Even on the bus ride back to the airport, I still found the special memories from the week lingering in my brain and in my heart. I felt like the week wasn’t over and that I was still sitting around the tree and in Dorm 11 with my best friends, because of how strong the memories were. Perlman brought me laughs, smiles, tears (happy and sad), new connections and friends, a new love for BBYO, and a new love for myself and those around me. The opportunity I was given was the dream of a lifetime, and I will never forget how much Perlman gave to me.
Shira Merenstein is a BBG from Denver, Colorado and loves to spend all her money on BBYO.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
BBYO has helped me find connection to my spirituality again through international programs, events, and friendships over the years.
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