My name is Murray Marks. I’m a fifth grader in Decatur, and this summer I had the most crazy fun experience of my life at Camp Ramah Darom. This was my first time at sleepaway camp, and even though I didn’t know anybody in the bunk, we all became friends very fast. I was a little nervous, but at camp you’re always with friends. My bunk was like a team.

Every morning we’d clean up the bunk, and even that is a fun activity called nikayon – Hebrew for clean-up. On Friday, we did an extra nikayon to get ready for Shabbat. When Shabbat came, the whole camp felt special. I dressed up and wore a kippah. Before dinner we had services and sang in Hebrew at the top or our lungs. Then there was the most delicious matzah ball soup at dinner. And more singing!

One of my favorite activities at camp was the climbing wall, where you have to trust the people who are holding onto your ropes. We really did trust each other, because I made it all the way up and down!

With so much stuff going on, there was no time to be homesick. My parents were okay with that because they were so glad I loved camp as much as they did.

Murray’s parents, Amanda and Aaron, are grateful for the scholarship assistance they received through Federation’s One Happy Camper program. “Aaron and I met on JDate because our profiles talked about Jewish camp. Ramah has given Murray a great sense of independence and exposure to Jewish ritual. We call it ‘Bar Mitzvah Boot Camp.’ As soon as they’re old enough we want to send Oscar and Ruby, Murray’s younger twin siblings, to Camp Ramah Darom.”