How do I describe Sprout Lake? How do I describe a place that means so much to me and so many other staff, alumni, and campers? Although I never took advantage of my chance to be a camper at Sprout, from the moment I began the Hadracha+ program in 2015, I knew that this summer camp was something special. When my classmates ask me why I would choose to spend next summer at "just a summer camp", I tell them it's because Sprout Lake is not "just a summer camp". Sprout is a place where kids can just be kids. Sprout is a place where all the problems, sadness, contention, and confusion of the outside world can melt away. At Sprout, regardless of their backgrounds, every single camper is treated as if they are the most important person in the world. Over my four sessions as a counselor, I have seen campers with learning challenges, intellectual disabilities, and complicated home lives come through the gates each summer. I see them again as they leave and each and every camper is happier than they were when they entered. Kids who never fit in find not just friends, but family. Kids who never felt like anyone cared find a whole group of counselors who treasure them like the amazing young people they are.
The kindness of the Sprout Lake community extends beyond care for the campers. This past summer, my mother's Yarhtzeit (Jewish anniversary of a death) fell on the same night as a staff meeting. Not just any staff meeting, either, but the longest one of the session, in the middle of the busiest week of the session. At the end of the hour-long meeting, I asked for a few people to stay back, so that I could say the Kaddish. All I needed were 10 people. Instead, every single staff member stayed. Every. Single. One. The love I felt in that moment was indescribable.
Beyond a loving community, Sprout offers every camper the chance to give back to the community through the Making A Difference in my Own Way program (MADIMOW). Campers bring songs and smiles to nursing home residents, they serve food to the hungry, and lobby our lawmakers in Washington about a cause they care about. Sprout embodies the Jewish principle of Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof, "justice, justice, you shall pursue". Sprout campers leave camp not just as happier, but with a sense of justice, a love for Israel, and a connection to the Jewish people.
By donating to the One Grand Challenge campaign, you can make a difference in your own way by giving a chance to experience this amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring place to campers who would otherwise not be able to attend this life-changing place.
Ani v'ata nishaneh et haolam
You and I will change the world
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