Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Heads or Tails Tuesday - "Explore"

Well, friends, it is Heads or Tails Tuesday again - hooray! Heads Or Tails is a weekly meme done on Tuesdays. Anyone can play. In fact the more, the merrier! You can visit the Heads or Tails Home Page for more information on how you can join in!

Today's topic is: EXPLORE.....

For some reason, the word "explore" often reminds me of camp. In junior high and high school, I had the privilege of attending a wonderful overnight camp, Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, (or OSRUI, as we call it). OSRUI is a Reform Jewish overnight camp in Oconomowoc, WI, and I had the opportunity to go for three summers, culminating in a summer-long, intensive Hebrew program that was life-altering.

My summers there were, and still are, precious to me. They really helped further the formation of my identity. Before going to camp, I was stuck in a rut - I had 'skipped' first grade, and had a reputation for being both smart and different. It wasn't that I was nerdy, but I felt boxed in to this one image of who I was. Adjusting to the new social group had been quite challenging when I was so young, and it took a long time to break free from merely being known as "the one who skipped."

So, fast forward to the summer after sixth grade - for the first time, no one knew about my past, and I was able to be whomever I wanted. I EXPLORED many different identities that first summer. I even gave myself a new nickname, Maci (pronounced like the store), in order to EXPLORE what that felt like. Soon, I earned a reputation for being fun, wild, spontaneous, and flirty (I had THREE boyfriends in THREE weeks that year!!). What a difference! Luckily, I was able to bring some of that newfound confidence back home with me, and integrate it into my school life. I was never the same, and longed for the next opportunity to go back to camp. I returned the following summer, and then the summer before 10th grade.

For those of you who have attended overnight camp, you know how intense those friendships can be. I am still friends with a number of my camp friends, and I treasure those summers. Additionally, I credit OSRUI with being part of my inspiration to become a rabbi. Those summers instilled in me a deeper love for Judaism than I probably would have had with synagogue life alone. Perhaps I am a rabbi just so that I can recreate those camp experiences for others!


Skittles said...

I went to a week of overnight camp with the Girl Scouts. It wasn't as good a time as you had. I always was so shy and self conscious.. felt too different, so I kept to myself.

My daughter Beth (Elizabeth) started having everyone call her Liz in middle school. :)

baby~amore' said...

I have great memories too of camps I attended as both 'camper' and as leader with our church.
It sounds like a turning point in your life - exploring that opened the door to new opportunities. My Mother in law has a strong interest in Israel and Jewish people. 'El Shaddai'is what she calls her home.

Sarene said...

I am SO envious that you had such an incredible sleepaway camp experience. Well, mainly that envy comes from the fact that you had three boyfriends in three weeks ;-)

For me, my camp memories are far from precious. If I had known better, and my parents had known better, I would have insisted that I be sent to either a dramatic arts (acting, singing, guitar playing) or creative arts (writing) camp. I spent five summers desperately trying to fit in among (I'm sorry to use this word, but it's true) unfriendly Jappy girls while spending my days vigorously trying to improve my skills in sport after sport -- but it was to no avail. To this day I am the worst athlete on the planet.

*Sigh* Well, it wasn't ALL bad. My final summer there (1992) I finally made it to "first base." :-p Although I wish I could have sneaked off to New York for Lollapalooza...Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, baby!

One Wacky Mom said...

I want to go to overnight camp...now

Andrée said...

Camp was a nightmare for me, but I can see, after reading THIS, that it can be so important to help identify who you are. I'm glad it worked out like that for you!

Phyllis Sommer said...

i, too, credit osrui for allowing me to explore myself and who i am...and inspiring me to become a rabbi too! what years were you at osrui?

The Egel Nest said...

I love the fact that all 3 of us (Marcie, Phyllis, me) went to OSRUI!

I credit OSRUI as almost entirely shaping my connection to Judaism.

The music, the appreciation of holidays, learning Hebrew, having an understanding and appreciation for Israel, the ideals of tzedakeh and tikun olam...and so many more things...not to mention my beginnings with Jewish music that led to a live long love affair with music and playing guitar and piano!

It was also the place I had my first real girlfriend, and my first real kiss...

What wonderful memories!

The Egel Nest

BipolarLawyerCook said...

so true-- and the ability to invent onesself anew is sooooo important , esp. to nerdy little girls : }