by Lauren Harris

I had a tough choice to make this summer. As a rising senior, I had a fair amount of options: I could work as a camp counselor, get a job and attempt to earn some cash, maybe start the common app… or I could attend one of the few camps that still allowed me to be a camper, even at the age of 17. For me, the choice was simple. I decided to enroll at the URJ Kutz Camp as part of the Regional Board Leadership track.

I had never attended a URJ camp before. In fact, I’d never even gone to a “real” sleep away camp. I didn’t know if I would know how to share a cabin with 17 other girls, or what it would be like to spend 3 and a half weeks with about 180 other campers. But I went into the summer with an open mind, and came out of the experience with amazing memories.

The biggest part of my summer experience revolved around Regional Board Track. It was my “major,” so I spent a big chunk of my day there with the 25 other participants who had also chosen it as their major. Everyone in the major held a position on Regional Board for their region of NFTY, which gave me a unique networking opportunity, and also connected me to NFTY on a national level. Every NFTY region has a unique way of leading events, fundraising, and writing programs; we all had so much to learn from each other. But we also had a lot to learn about ourselves. Regional Board Track helped me discover who I am as a leader, and helped me fine-tune my goals for this upcoming year on GER’s Regional Board.

While I did spend a lot of time in my rather serious Major, I also had a ton of time to explore the fun side of Kutz! Part of each afternoon was spent in Minors and Electives, which could range from Advanced Tanning to Yoga to Kutz Glee. The choices seemed limitless– Kutz encouraged us all to shape unique experiences for ourselves and really pursue our interests.

The hardest part about Kutz was saying goodbye. By the time the summer came to a close, I had met so many amazing people from all over the world, and I knew it would be hard to figure out a way to see them again. It was also sad to be leaving a community where I felt that I fit in so perfectly; where different points of view worked in harmony, and where I could be completely myself. I hope to return next year as staff and see some of my friends again. But until then, I will hold on as tightly as I can to the friendships I made, lessons I learned, and the amazing memories I created.