Written by Kara Hoffman, 6 Points Creative Arts Academy Assistant Director
There is a story that has been told for generations that includes the phrase Gam Zeh Ya’avor or this too shall pass. Not surprisingly, I first heard this saying, one that has become my life’s motto, at camp in Georgia. It’s an idea that has helped me through difficult experiences and assisted me in savoring the good moments. It’s a constant reminder that nothing lasts. But now I am not so sure it is entirely true.
During the year I travel and travel and travel. It’s not a joke that the 7 weeks spent at Westtown were the most Jo-Ellen and I were in one place all year. We spend most weekends in different cities, talking with families and youth about their passions, summer plans, the challenging cost of camp and ways to offset those fees. It’s the only job in the world where 10 months of work are done for 2 months of performance. At CAA, we call this a balance of process and product.
Camp as a full time job is unpredictable. I never could have predicted that, going home, I’d feel similar emotions as our campers and staff, whom I supervised and supported. It’s truly a beautiful thing about community; no matter who you are within it, the absence of community is always felt. As we transition (transition, transition…) back to recruitment and planning for next year the feeling of loss is real.
We talk about this with campers during the summer as we prepare to send them back to the “real world.” The camp bubble is one many of our campers, and staff, don’t experience at school or in their professional lives. They are supported and encouraged to be authentically themselves in a way that is unique to CAA. As the summer ended and we faced the reality of the end of the bubble, we found a source of inspiration in Mr. Rogers that our Director adapted for our community.
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers
CAA is a safe space and returning to places in which many of our community feel somehow “other” is scary. We encouraged our campers and staff to look for safe places outside of camp. Like helpers, there are always points where we can feel safe and brave. Since we now know what one looks like, we have a framework to look for others.
So yes, people and places shall pass. Yet, the emotions and memories that are evoked by them stick with us. It’s the reason we return to the stories, the friends, and the places that first gave us those feelings. As the summer ends and our community is spread out once more, I look for those safe places, those safe people, and those safe memories.
This too shall pass. It’s a reminder for sure, but it isn’t an ending.