Blog  Reflecting on the Young Alumni Shabbaton

Reflecting on the Young Alumni Shabbaton


Melissa Frey, Kutz Camp Director

Just prior to the start of camp this year, a powerful rainstorm came through Warwick. I was heartbroken the next day upon realizing the scope of the damage – one of our iconic willow trees along Lake Rolyn had cracked in half, branches were strewn around Pagoda Isaac, fractured in pieces too many to count. I couldn’t help wondering at that moment if what I was seeing was a metaphor for how I was feeling. Our tree removal service came to take the rest of the tree down and the pieces away. In my gut, that just felt wrong. The next day, Eddie Emmanuel, our facilities manager of more than 35 years, took me to where the tree had been discarded. We selected a large crosscut section where both the bark and interior wood were visible. It was beautiful and perfect in its own way, and we had it delivered back to camp.

The weekend of July 26-28, more than 160 young alumni joined us at Kutz for the first of our alumni events to honor this space and show gratitude for all that camp has provided us. On Saturday evening, we gave our alumni the opportunity to create their own mezuzah that included wood from that willow. There was such beauty and intentionality in how people chiseled their pieces from the branch and selected the perfect piece of wood for their own mezuzah. Just like our attendees, each mezuzah was unique and extraordinary. We were able to take something that felt broken and create it into something different, meaningful, and even more beautiful – it was a true metaphor.

Camp will continue to live in our hearts, in our homes, and on each of our journeys. I have such profound love and appreciation for Avra Bossov, Evan Traylor, and Sierra Debrow for their leadership in making this weekend exactly what we needed it to be. I am so grateful for and inspired by the remarkable Kutz staff for their ongoing perseverance and passion. And to our event attendees, thank you for showing up. Your magical voices, whole hearts, sweaty hugs, ugly cries, laughs so hard they hurt, and so much love for each other made each moment priceless. My gratitude for the people who continue to make our shared experience so special is beyond measure.