Kathy and I attended Camp Ramah in California in the 60’s. I went through the entire camping program, culminating with my Machon Summer in 1968; and followed as an Ozer (now Mador) in 1970, a counselor in 1971 and 1972; Winter Program Director ’74/’75, and Summer Program Director in ’77 and ’78. Kathy was a camper in the mid-sixties, culminating with Machon in 1967; returning as Rosh Teva for twenty-plus years starting in 1977.
Kathy came to Camp from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I was from Southern California. Fate placed us in the same college dorm at Berkeley in the fall of 1971. I recognized Kathy, and suspected it was from Camp. Over a cafeteria dinner, I played the role of mind reader, and completely astounded Kathy with the announcement of names I suspected she knew camp friends of mine who were from San Francisco. With a name like “Peter Reynolds,” she was unsuspicious of any Jewish connection. She was startled and surprised, and the rest is history.
Following college graduation in 1974, my first job back in L.A. was with Camp Ramah. I managed all of the administration and programming of the Winter-weekends at Camp while Kathy remained in San Francisco studying for her California teaching credential.
This June 15th marks our 30th wedding anniversary.
Our wedding was a phenomenal celebration that brought together significant portions of California’s Ramah community from both north and south. The decades that followed exemplified everything that the fundamental philosophy of Ramah could possibly aspire to.
Kathy made a career of teaching science to Jewish day-schoolers in Los Angeles. The day that the school year ended, our household would pack up and move to Ojai. Our three children, Amy, Ben and Judy literally grew up at Camp. Judy completed her campership last summer and now awaits her departure for Poland/Israel on this summer’s Ramah Seminar. Her, now adult, siblings have spent summers on staff as counselors and specialists.
Perhaps the most significant moment for us, as parents, was during Pesach-2000, when we traveled to Israel to be together with Amy who was studying at Pardes. On two consecutive nights we transformed Amy’s apartment into a festive gathering place; first for Seder, and then for Shabbat. Both nights brought a large group of students, many of whom were Ramahniks on their Junior-Year abroad.
Kathy’s work at Camp included many highlights; she developed the concept of environmental mini-camps, often transporting groups of campers to canyons or beaches of Ventura County. The campers performed hard work to clean up and preserve the natural beauty of these areas, and while doing so Kathy would integrate teachings of Torah. The environmental studies transitioned into the study of the region’s geology. Kathy accomplished accreditation of her summer curriculum, and we believe her program to be the only Ramah course of study from which campers received full credit at their schools. The Ventura Country Board of Supervisors invited our campers to the county government center where official recognition was delivered in gratitude for Camp’s contributions to Ventura’s environmental improvements. But, in spite of these “loftier” accomplishments, most California Ramahniks remember Kathy for always braving the local rattlesnakes. Like the Camp doctor being rousted for a medical emergency, Kathy was often summoned to capture various creatures, including the snakes. She always caught the predators, sometimes adding to the nature-room’s exhibits, but eventually escorting the animals back into the hills, returning them into the natural environment where they belonged.
After retiring from my own stint in Jewish education, I remained active with camp as an active participant on Camp Ramah in California’s Board of Directors. For the last fifteen years I have enjoyed facilitating camp’s insurance and risk-management program with participation on NRC’s insurance and safety committee.