Thanks for Eytan Deener-Agus (2010 session I) and Mikaela Kaiser (2010 Session II) for their submissions to our story contest. While neither won the grand prize, both wrote terrific stories that are reprinted below.
By Mikaela Kaiser
“Scared. Excited. Worried.” These were the feelings I had as the bus neared Camp Ramah of the Rockies. “How the heck did I end up here?” I was thinking to myself. The dead trees are not the most welcoming sight. But, all the other kids on the bus and the counselors were singing, laughing, and sharing camp stories. I thought, “Maybe this will be the most amazing two weeks ever.” That is exactly what the two weeks turned out to be.
I flew to Camp Ramah from Chicago. When I got off the plane in Denver, I was greeted by a young guy in a crazy fish hat. I was still a little nervous but as soon as I met all the other kids that had flown into Denver that day, I began to relax.
From the airport, we took a bus to camp. Camp Ramah in the Rockies is an incredibly beautiful place. I enjoyed the smell of the air and loved seeing the mountains, aspens and all the birds. I fell quickly in love with the camp.
My ohel was filled with the sweetest girls I have ever met. I know they will be life-long friends. We shared two important things in common: our love for nature and for Judaism. We spent hours together praying, horseback riding, laughing, sharing stories and eating many delicious meals.
I could go on and on about how I was changed by the food at camp. I went to camp as one of the pickiest eaters. I came back eating almost anything. I use to crave sweets. Now, instead of reaching for a candy bar, I pull out the granola and toss in some chocolate chips. All of the meals were so much fun. I especially liked the salmon dinner and breakfasts. My ohel would always sing Taylor Swift songs during breakfast.
Then there was the masa, our trip off camp. I remember the morning we left the Rabbi said, “This might be really scary and you might be hungry at some points, or cold and tired.” He was right. Those are the moments in life that truly change you. It was amazing how proud we felt after finishing the masa.
We returned from our masa on a Friday. Shabbos at camp is so special. It is filled with love and happiness. I felt the closest I ever have felt with God on the Shabbos I spent at Camp Ramah. I don’t know if it was the praying, meditation, or the spiritual havdalah session. It was all breath taking.
The experience of the masa and Shabbos made it hard to say goodbye to friends and Camp Ramah. The morning we left camp was filled with tears. We all hated to leave.
Back in Chicago, I still carry a big piece of Ramah in my heart. It would be great if everyone could have the chance that I had to experience the spirit and magic of Camp Ramah of the Rockies.
By Eytan Deener-Agus
On the rock climbing Masaa during session Ib, it was raining most of the time but it would only rain after we hiked up the mountain and set up the climb. Right before we would start climbing it would thunder and rain so we would have to find some type of cave or overhang to stay dry in. For two of the five days we were at the same cliff and it rained both days. So we found a big overhang that could hold everyone and stayed there for the two days. You might think that it would be a pretty boring two days but it was the exact opposite.
I had the time of my life! We piled on top of each other to stay warm and Ethan Aronson read us almost all of Catcher in the Rye. We ate when we wanted (which was a lot of the time) and could talk with everyone. We also had front row seats for the best lightning show to ever come to Colorado! We all started singing songs from camp and out of camp.
One of our favorites was “Down by the Bay” which we sang for almost two hours. We would all crack up at the different versions that people made up. We would also do a rain dance trying to stop the rain which was hilarious too! I taught some people how to widdle a stick and by the end we were all making tiny wooden hearts or cool designs on sticks.
At one point it cleared up, so we went on a hike and found some small tunnels and tried to climb as far as we could into them. Some of us bouldered and others tried climbing up a slab of rock with no hands, which a lot of us learned how to do.
Surprising as it might seem, I never liked raisins but when we ate the energy bars with raisins in them I almost fell in love. The food was so good, especially because we got to make most of it ourselves. I tried all these new foods which I would have never eaten at home like different types of mushrooms and other vegetables. Now I eat a ton more things because of the variety in our food at camp.
Ramah in the Rockies was the best experience that I could ever get and I can’t wait to go back!!