Alumni Spotlight: A Capital Camps Love Story
We checked in with Rachel Sonenthal and Daniel Strauss, a Capital Camps couple
When did you attend Capital Camps?
We’ve almost lost count of all of the years we’ve spent at camp! Daniel went for 11 years starting in 1995, and I went for 13 years (I think!) starting in 1996 with a few years skipped in between.
What was your favorite memory from camp?
Daniel: I know for me, my favorite memory from camp would probably be Friday nights. Shabbat was so special at camp, and going from getting so much out of services and song session to actually one day leading them myself was something that really made me realize just how special it was to be Jewish, and have Judaism be a part of my life. And meeting Rachel was okay too.
Rachel: There’s no question that celebrating Shabbat is also my favorite memory from camp. It was so special each week. It felt like everything slowed down, and there was always so much excitement in the air as everyone got ready for Friday night. Israeli dancing and song sessions are the best!
What was your favorite activity? Favorite food? Most important lesson you learned at camp?
Daniel: I remember really loving being a part of now defunct the radio chug back in 1995. We actually had a frequency and could broadcast to the entire camp. I thought that was incredible, and getting to record skits and interviews for the radio is something that has stayed with me.
When we were kids at camp, going to chatif consisted of getting an entire candy bar and soda. Obviously, nutritional standards have come a long way since then. But at the time, that was definitely my favorite “camp food.”
I think the most important lesson I learned was the value of Jewish community, and, like the song says “you’re never alone when you say you’re a Jew.”
Rachel: I was always a big fan of arts and crafts, and it was usually the chug I chose. I also liked swimming in the lake and the pool.
My favorite camp food is grilled cheese. Although Daniel’s brother who also attended camp would probably disagree. He wrote a whole musical one summer at camp about hating grilled cheese!
Camp taught me how important it is to be yourself. Growing up I always felt like I could be most myself when I was at camp, and that meant a lot to me.
How/when did you meet your spouse? Favorite memory that you shared together at camp?
We met in 1998, briefly while we were at Camp Kaufmann, but didn’t really become friends until the following summer, when we were in drama chug together. That year a few of us wrote our own camp show which was based around the Barenaked Ladies song “If I had a Million Dollars”.
What are you and your spouse up to now?
We now live in Los Angeles, California, with our amazing two year old daughter, Sophie. Daniel is an actor and can be seen in the upcoming Paul Reiser sitcom, There’s…Johnny!, which premieres on Hulu November 16. I am an early childhood educator working at Wilshire Boulevard Temple Early Childhood Center, so Jewish education is still a huge part of my life.
How has Capital Camps made a lasting impact on you?
Daniel: Aside from introducing me to the person I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life with, I think camp still affects me as a person on a daily basis. Some of my most special memories I’ve had in my life were at camp, and if I’m stressed, or having trouble, I try to put my mind back to “camp me.” We’ve even considered sending our daughter to Capital (when she’s old enough, of course).
Rachel: I grew so much at camp and learned so much about myself. Camp has made me the person I am today and is a big part of my identity. I met my husband there and I’ve also met some of my best friends there.
Although you live across the country now, why do you still choose to support Capital Camps?
Capital Camps changed both of our lives in countless ways for the better, and supporting camp is the least we can do. We love Camp!