The Magic of Ramaquois | Camp Ramaquois

The Magic of Ramaquois

Posted by on February 7, 2011

By Jared Gelb

I’ve heard people use a variety of words to describe their summer camp experiences, but the word that I always come back to is “magic.”  The mere fact that it’s so difficult to explain why or how the camp experience is so profound and meaningful for me (and for so many others) is something that can only be explained by some sort of mysticism or confluence of cosmic forces.  My story isn’t much different than so many other people’s stories.

My own experiences as a camper were limited to different types of sports camps and local programs rather than the traditional all-inclusive summer camp experience that Ramaquois offers.  When it came time to seek summer employment rather than attend as a camper, I naturally gravitated to Ramaquois because my mother worked in the (now defunct) nursery school that was on the camp’s grounds.  Little did I know that accepting that summer job in 1987 for a $100 salary would change my life so drastically.

Being the “new guy” at a place where so many people have spent so many summers wouldn’t appear to be the most inviting situation for a 15-year-old, but I was amazed from the first day that so many people made me feel so much a part of the team.  Everyone that I worked with seemed so…nice.  That word is so trivial, but I was truly overwhelmed by how nice everyone was to me.  I was extremely impressed by the then-Boys’ Side director, a wonderful man named Paul Shapiro.  He seemed to set a tone of kindness, energy, passion, and love for camp and its campers, and that approach to camp spread to all the counselors.  Paul never seemed to get tired, never appeared to have a cross thing to say about anyone, and always put the needs of the campers ahead of his own needs.  He was the ultimate role model, and he’s the primary reason I ultimately became a teacher; I wanted to be just like Paul, both professionally and personally

Over the years, I developed friendships that have lasted for over 20 years.  I got to know the most genuine people and share the most meaningful and personal experiences.  I worked with children who I now consider to be my friends despite our 10-year (or more) age difference.  I developed confidence in myself as a counselor, as a person, and as a friend.  I was pushed by peers to be better every summer.  We socialized in the evenings and developed true relationships; those experiences spilled over into the subsequent camp days as we learned to depend upon each other, and we taught our campers the value of friendship over any other experience that camp had to offer.

Camp Ramaquois changed my life, and I’m honored to be able to continue working here (making those friends from the late ’80s and early ’90s extremely jealous).  My life has forever been changed because of the extension of kindness and friendship from people with whom I only spent any quality time during the summers.  I’m honored that I can pass on the passion for Ramaquois and the friends we make here to my own children, and they’ve bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

I wish I could really explain what it is that I love about Ramaquois, but I think it’s just easier to say that it’s…magic.

***Editor’s Note*** Jared Gelb is the director of Ramaquois Boys’ Side, the position once held by his role-model, Paul Shapiro.  Paul originally coined the phrase “Boys’ Side Pride” to represent all of the wonderful values (and magic) of Boys’ Side.  Jared continues the tradition of “Pride” today and is a wonderful role-model for all of our campers.