Hello, Mother. Hello, Father.
Here I am at Camp ROI.
Camp is very entertaining.

It’s true. Day 1, and within minutes of getting my name tag I was warped right back to my Jew camp days. Granted, the scenery is different. It’s a fancy hotel. A conference instead of a big field. A hotel room instead of…well, bunk beds.

That said, I have a roommate and we bonded over not being able to find the control for our air conditioning. Yes, we have both been accepted to ROI but can’t figure out where these Israel hotel Mossad agents have hidden the switch (we’re on to you, though).

I love the camp feeling. The new people, who all happened to be so open and friendly. The all-you-can-eat buffet that seems to find its way into any Jewish setting. And the “counselors” making long-winded announcements or making us play weird ice breakers in what feels like the middle of the night. Dancing to music with glow sticks and pom-poms is definitely a move I haven’t done since Rachel’s bat mitzvah circa 1996.

ROI is already turning out to be more than what I expected. And isn’t that so campy of me to say? The first day is officially over, since I am writing this past midnight, which means I am on to Day 2.

If ROI is like camp – which it is — it will mean that by tomorrow (or today, after I sleep for a few hours) at lunch time I will have made new  besties and it will feel like we have known each other for at least two years, not two days, if not forever.

My camp experience shaped my childhood and awkward adolescent years. Camp gave me purpose, space and insight into the person I wanted to become. I know that ROI will be the same in this respect. After all, this is a summit to bring together ideas, people, and a bigger picture of it all.

The opening event brought with it an exciting keynote speaker, Doug Ulman, CEO of LIVESTRONG. His story was uplifting and courageous, but I think he really grabbed us campers with his final words explaining why he does what he does:

We are naïve enough to think we are going to change the world. And we are audacious enough to try.

His words left an echo on the atmosphere of the room and the meaning of the conference, oh why we are all here. And then someone a few rows back said, “It’s being naïve, audacious and having chutzpah.”

We have gathered here to be those naïve, audacious people as a collective group. And of course any group of Jews is going to bring with them enough chutzpah to truly make a difference.

I can’t wait to see what we all create. From the friendships to the networks, the ideas to the business plans. And the little moments in between.

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