While I sit at Lake Blass at Camp Chi’s Perlstein resort, the water drifts slowly. As I look down, the water glistens below me; as I drink my coffee, I look into the nature around me, and smile. I have so much to be thankful for.
Here I am grateful. This place is like another home to be, but it’s not the place that makes a place a home, it’s the people. 74 people that I was friends with became my family as they made this past summer better than my hopes ever could be. When I reflect on this summer, I am grateful for the experiences that I have been given. Given my experience, I have learned that there is a responsibility that comes with privilege. I have realized that I should feel blessed to bless and gifted to give. I’m not lucky, fortunate, or simply disciplined; I am expected to do something with the life I’ve been given. And so are you.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand gratitude. In a universe that seemed to hurt for no reason, giving thanks felt wrong. Living in a world where genuine people had bad things happen to them just didn’t make sense. But now I understand. Being grateful is a choice, and I am glad that this summer allowed me to understand the importance of it.
Alongside the 74 members of my camp family we hugged, cried, and became closer than I had expected in such a short span of time. Although summer is now gone, I reflect on my time spent at Camp Chi often comprehending the imperative opportunity I was granted to be a Staff In Training this past summer. It is not often that we find time during the summer to put into words all of the things that make us feel thankful. The fast pace of camp seems to never slow down. I am thankful that I was able to share in the journey with my friends and campers as they encounter new challenges, make new friends, play outside, and reinvent themselves each summer. Having the distinct pleasure of working with children in an environment that provides incredible opportunities for play, exploration, and growth was an experience like none other. Growing as a person alongside my best friends in my happy place is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. So, I am counting down the days until next summer, and I will never be more grateful than for the Camp Chi family, and the SIT’s of 2017.
Being grateful for my experiences gave me the perfect opportunity. The opportunity to make the gratitude list. Though it is thought to be easy, I carefully had to remind myself of the many reasons I have to be grateful. But it was an exercise well worth the discomfort of picking and choosing between what has impacted my life. With this, here’s my challenge for you. Take some time around the holidays, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, to come up with a list of what you are thankfully for. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t let that stop you from still giving thanks. And in case you were wondering, here are my 10 reasons to give thanks today:
I am thankful for my health for allowing me to live each day to the fullest making me realize that even the worst days are only 24 hours
I am thankful for my family, who have been my biggest supporters, and the more caring individuals I have had the pleasure of spending the last seventeen years alongside
I am thankful for my friends, who can always make me smile. The ones I have made memories with, and will for years to come.
I am thankful for the past, present, and future SIT’s of Camp Chi as the Camp Chi family is an inclusive & loving group that I will have infin17e love & grat17ude for always.
I am thankful for the United Synagogue Youth for allowing me to become who I am today, and for immersing me in my culture.
I am thankful for my education ensuring that I have the power to change the world.
I am thankful for the gift and work of writing — that it is both difficult and easy at the same time. Always frustrating. Always rewarding.
I am extremely thankful for the youth in my generation who are making a difference in the world. You guys inspire me.
I am thankful for living in a city full of creative minds and opportunities.
I am thankful for doing work that matters.
I am thankful for music — bands like LANY, and camp music like Free Falling & Leaving on a Jet Plane. Their words inspire me, and remind me there is more than just doing in this world.
I am thankful for Netflix — for being able to turn part of my brain off and just be at times.
Lastly, and most importantly, I am thankful for everything — it cannot be explained, but being grateful for the world around us is imperative to how we live our lives. It inspires creativity, for purpose and a hope that there is more to the story than we see.