While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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Jonah @ Kutz: Ben Tungland

2015.06.SummerCamp“Summer Camp” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s summer fundraiser for 2015. Throughout June and July 2015, we’ll be remembering — through the writing of his friends as well as some who watched from the sidelines — experiences, both great and small, that were part of Jonah’s seventeen years (from age 1 to 18) at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us help Kutz continue its wildly successful work of helping teens blaze a summer’s path to a whole, healthy life. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org. Thank you. You’re the best!

Ben Tungland remembers …

BenTungland.01aBen Tungland is 27 years old. He recently moved to Silver Spring, MD, where he now works for the National Council for Traditional Arts. Ben received a degree in Philosophy from Hartwick College in 2010 and was involved with Jewish Summer camping for about 16 years.

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From my experience, people have several core reactions working a summer camp job. The two biggest, for me, are that the work never ends and that you meet some of the greatest people during your time there. I don’t have too many memories of Jonah anymore since we worked in two different areas of camp, however there is one night that still stands tall as one of the happier memories that I have from Kutz.

It must have been at least halfway through the camp session at this point, but I remember being downstairs in Menucha with Jonah, Jade, Kayla and, of course, myself. It was after our work was done for the day and it was just free time until curfew. When free time had started, a group of us was hanging out, talking, playing games and what have you, but the best part of the night was after everyone else had gone to bed and it only the four of us remained.

Gaga Wall Complete! (Jul '08)

Gaga Wall Complete! (Jul ’08)

We sat there by ourselves talking, swapping stories and just enjoying each other’s company until the Super Shmira came downstairs and told us that it was past curfew and we needed to go to bed. So of course we didn’t until they came back about 10 minutes later and told us to go.

At the time, I didn’t think too much of that night. But as the years have passed since Jonah’s death, that night keeps coming back to me. From what I learned from the rest of that summer and from talking to everyone about Jonah, that night became very special to me. That was the night that I got to experience the joy, passion and “good people” vibes that Jonah put out every single day of his life. That night, we got to be four people who worked at a camp together just being ourselves.

That night Jonah became a good friend of mine and I became one of his.



Do you have a memory of Jonah at Kutz? Share it as a comment below. And please donate to our “Summer Camp ‘15″ campaign at jonahmac.org/donate. Thanks!

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