In 2011, leaving the Vill for a three-week trip to Israel sounded miserable. Yes, my sixteen-year-old self seriously complained about abandoning my homemade tents and makeshift stove constructed of mud and sticks for an all-inclusive journey to the holy land with my best friends. I was crazy. But I wasn’t the only one!

Well, the trip came and went, and I’ll admit, trading in Maccabiah for Masada wasn’t half bad! It was my first time out of the country; I was with my best friends; we were able to run around and develop inside jokes and make trouble in a whole new country! While my sixteen-year-old self thought Israel was totally sababa, I didn’t realize the true impact of the trip until years later.

Fast-forward to 2017, I just graduated from Vanderbilt University, and I’m preparing to move to Austin, Texas for my first real job. My four best college friends and I decide to have a last hoorah before we all moved to cities across the world: a 10-day Birthright Trip. Of course, a free trip to Israel has many perks, but Birthright truly uncovered how impactful the Pio trip was six years prior. While my sixteen-year-old self focused on every inside joke I made in every new city, I didn’t realize the knowledge I was absorbing along the way. I spent a large portion of my recent trip educating my friends—many who have never visited Israel—on the history and culture of the country that our trip leaders overlooked. Many friends on the trip even commented on my vast understanding of Judaism and Israel. Not only was I overjoyed to relay these comments to my grandmother over a fresh cup of matzah ball soup, I was also eager to tell my camp friends—as they could attest I was not the camper most willing to sit down quietly, well-behaved, and listen to a guest speaker.

When I arrived back to the states, after I slept for 18 hours, I used the time in between college and the real world to reflect on my trip and my gratitude for Jewish sleepaway camp, and the Pioneer Israel trip that served as a capstone for our camper years. My seven summers at Perlman Camp not only influenced my Jewish identity as a young adult, but served as a source of friendship, support, and confidence throughout the most formative years. In the past year, I have connected with camp friends in Nashville, New Orleans, Bahamas, Israel, New York, and San Francisco and am truly grateful for the lifelong friendships Perlman has provided.

No matter the gift, large or small, your support and generosity ensures that every camper will have the opportunity to experience the life-changing magic of Summer 2018 at Perlman Camp. Share the Magic today.