Alumni Spotlight: Mim Kahn

Alumna, Mim Kahn, recently spoke to a group of community and board members about her 15 years as a camper and staff member at Capital Camps! Read her remarks below:

Over the 15 summers I spent at Capital Camps, I probably lost at least 100 socks, my voice after almost every single Color War (or Maccabiah), and liters of tears saying goodbye to beloved friends and campers on the last day of the summer. However, what I gained far exceeds anything I may have “lost” over my summers at camp. I can safely say with complete and utter certainty that I would not be the person I am today had it not been for my experiences at Capital Camps.

I will never forget the overwhelming anxiety I felt as an 8-year-old climbing on to the rickety old school bus that was taking me to camp for the very first time. I was a “second two-weeker”, meaning that many of my other peers had already been at camp for 2 weeks and had likely already established a routine and friendships. During the school year, I felt I was average in every sense of the word: had some friends, but not a lot; was neither really well-liked or strongly disliked; had some skills, but nothing that I felt I especially excelled at. Heading to camp, I assumed that my experience would be similar to that during the school year, if not worse. However, when I stepped off that bus, I could not have been more wrong. I was overwhelmed by a group of girls who were eager to welcome me to the Modi’in “cabin with purple walls”, the “chatif”, or canteen, where I could get orange soda (my favorite drink ever), and the run-down tennis courts where I learned Israeli songs and dances. I automatically felt included and wanted and I felt I could fully and authentically be myself without fear of judgment. Better yet, I was embraced for it.

From that moment on, for 8 consecutive summers, I felt that I was at home one month of the year and waiting to go back home the remaining 11. I felt that I was just regular Miriam during the school year but that I could be my true “Mim” at camp. I had an outlet for expressing my Jewish identity beyond sitting behind a wooden desk at Hebrew School on a Wednesday night – I could live it, sing it, dance it. I began to understand that being Jewish wasn’t just another “thing about me”, but it was uniquely intertwined into my identity as a young person. It wasn’t until I became a Counselor-In-Training and then a Counselor that I felt that I truly had found my calling. It was as if something had suddenly “clicked” for the first time: a connection between my love for camp, my passion for helping others and my energy and excitement for all things silly and fun all perfectly melded into a role that I finally felt I could excel at. I cared for the well-being of my campers before myself and truly wanted to help campers discover their inner strengths and potential.

As I began to explore potential career paths, the underlying question I continuously asked myself was, “What line of work can bring me the same satisfaction and passion as working at camp?” Camp helped me discover my desire to help others. Now, as a School Social Worker, I often reflect on how Capital Camps informed the leader and professional I am today. Camp has offered me so much: a clear understanding of what career to pursue, a partner whom I have happily been with for 10 years (who I met my first summer on staff), and a strong sense of my Jewish identity, just to name a few. But the most important thing Capital Camps has offered me is the awareness that my experience is not unique. In fact, it is typical of experiences of hundreds of children who attend camp every summer, as camp empowers future young leaders to discover their innate strengths and abilities. I hope you will consider supporting the camp that allows young people who feel “average”, to realize just how exceptional they truly are.