Camp and summer romances go hand in hand, and once in a while those early relationships actually go the distance. We’re rounding up some great stories of young love that blossomed into real life marriage and delivering them to you in a monthly series called Summer Lovin’.
TAMARA LAWSON SCHUSTER & NEAL SCHUSTER
When/how/where at camp did you meet?
We met on staff at UAHC (now URJ) Camp Swig in Saratoga, CA the summer of 1987. Tamara was the CIT girls’ advisor and Neal was a counselor. We met during staff week.
Was it love right away? What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
Love right away, no, but we connected pretty early into the summer. It was a summer romance which ended when we left camp and headed back to college in separate cities. But…just over eight years later, in fall 1995, we reconnected through our jobs. Neal had just relocated to Los Angeles working for NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) as a recruiter for youth Israel programs. Tamara was in her first job post grad school as Director of Education at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, CA. Neal had to make calls to rabbis and educators to set up group meetings with synagogue teens and their parents. His call to Tamara (whom he knew as Tammy back in the day) went something like the following: “Is this the same Tamara Lawson who used to be known as Tammy at Camp Swig?” And, well, the rest is history. We set up a time in December for Neal to meet with the TBT confirmation families and after the meeting the two of us hung out. By late January 1996 we were dating and, in June, upon Tamara’s return from Camp Swig (where she served on faculty during staff week and for the start of camp) Neal proposed while walking to baggage claim(!) at LAX airport!
Will you send your kids to your camp?
Already do!!! Our kids (ages 12, 10 and 7) attend URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA, and we serve on faculty. Yes, we travel to the Seattle area (Neal’s hometown) for camp. Our kids love going to Camp Kalsman with their cousins and we love that camp is still a part of our lives!
Tamara and Neal Schuster were married in May 1997. Tamara received her MAJE/MAJCS at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and currently serves as Director of Admissions at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA), a community day school. Neal graduated from the HUC-JIR rabbinic program in Los Angeles and currently serves as Senior Jewish Educator at University of Kansas Hillel. They live in Overland Park, KS with their three kids.