The Canteen is a tribute to all things Jewish sleepaway camp. Hosted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), this blog is written by campers, alumni, parents, and camp professionals and is a place to talk about parenting, camp fun, projects, crafts, recipes, and more – all tied back to Jewish holidays, traditions and, of course, camp!
Alicia and Neil Berlin
When/how/where at camp did you meet?
Both growing up at Camps Airy and Louise (as campers and on staff), we knew each other for quite a while before we started dating. During one winter, Neil went to the shiva for Alicia’s Bubby and by that summer, we were dating. Alicia was a teacher and Neil worked in the corporate world. His company was going through some changes and he had two months of vacation to use, so he decided to take his summer off and work at camp. Both Alicia and Neil had the same job at our respective camp – Unit Leader for the Trainees. He was at Camp Airy, the boys camp, and Alicia was 8 miles down the road at Camp Louise, the sister camp. Needless to say, there were some extra co-ed activities scheduled for the Camp Airy and Camp Louise CITs that summer!
Was it love right away?
Neil likes to say it was love at first sight… which would have been highly inappropriate! Neil’s first summer at Camp Airy was 1988, as a camper in the youngest Unit. Alicia’s first summer WORKING at Camp Louise was 1988, as a counselor for the youngest unit. Neil likes to tell people that at the first dance – it was love at first sight! In reality, we became friends when both of us were on staff years later before ever thinking of dating.
What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
After Neil’s summer back at camp, we continued to date and got engaged that Thanksgiving. We got married the following summer, and even found time to volunteer at camp after a long honeymoon!
Did you have any camp themed thing at your wedding?
Our wedding was July 4, 2004. Everyone expected that we would get married at camp… but we didn’t! We just brought many camp people out of camp for our wedding! With all of the people at our wedding, we’re not sure who was watching the campers that night! At our wedding, many of our camp friends participated in the service – signing the Ketubah and reading the Seven Blessings. And one of the rabbis that married us was Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen – one of Alicia’s CIT sisters.
Do you find that your time at camp has influenced your relationship/marriage/family?
Most definitely! So much so that Neil left his corporate job two years ago to work full time for Camps Airy and Louise as Director of Operations. Many of our close friends are from camp. All of our babysitters are from camp! Our summers at camp are a continuation of the Jewish household in which we raise our children.
Will you send your kids to camp?
We have three girls – twins who are 9 and an 8 year old. They have all been at camp literally since the day they were born. The first summer Alicia was Director, our twins turned 1 at camp and Alicia was pregnant with our third. Our parents came to camp to help us with the kids. Camp is truly a family affair for us! We wouldn’t have been able to be at camp full time without the generous help of both sets of parents. And camp is our children’s second family. Summer 2017 will be our girls’ fourth year in a bunk. They love camp as well as their camp friends!
Pronounced: SHI-vuh (short i), Origin: Hebrew, seven days of mourning after a funeral, when the mourner stays at home and observes various rituals.