Having already spent one week of my three weeks event in the midst of tall trees and thick forest of Pennsylvania, explained why Atlas Corps is an institution of changing perspectives and my perspective is reaching a new dimension due to this camping I’m going through with my host organization. Little is known about my current host organization however, this little introduction will put you in picture of what Amir is about and what it does. This is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland California.

Amir originated from camp friends wanting to improve the summer camp experience. It was summer 2008 when five friends dreamt of building a camp based around the tenets of commonality, cooperation, and sharing resources. During the following year, David Fox, who is the current CEO, with his co-founders Yan Digilov and Josh Goldberg, developed what they thought could be a scalable template for environmental and social justice education at summer camps. In summer 2010, Amir’s program was piloted at Camp Ramah in Canada.

In summer 2011, Amir grew to five camps and established its model of recruitment, training, and oversight. To enable these camps to access engaging and relevant farm-based education, Amir trained 12 outstanding young adults (now called Farmers and Fellows) to build gardens and teach Amir’s curriculum at their respective camps. Under the same model, Amir trained 20 Farmers and Fellows in summer 2012 to bring its program to ten summer camps.

Summer 2012 saw the addition of the Garden-to-Pantry Initiative. By facilitating connections between summer camps and local food pantries, Amir helped its partner camps collectively donate thousands of pounds of food to those in need. This past year has seen continued development towards Amir’s long-term sustainability. Amir’s Board of Directors has expanded to include distinguished leaders in education and community service. Amir currently operates in 25 summer camps across the United States of America.

Just as we concluded our May 2014 Global Leadership Lab. I took a road drive heading to a small town call Waynesboro in Pennsylvania for Amir Retreat at Capital Camps and Retreat Center for which I had to pitch tent for three weeks. And these weeks made me to be what I call a temporary farmer out of my Finance profession. The purpose of me joining this great team from across the country was for seminars and delivering important information sharing to all the participants during the seminar. And having stayed at the camp for one week now and later two weeks a head was/will be amazing.

Imagine sitting around a big fire with many people reminded me of those days back in South Sudan where fire was the source of warm against cold weather, since we lived in era where clothes were miracle, but sitting around this fire at Capital camp was of fun as we enjoyed every moment of togetherness with all colleagues in order to beat the cold temperatures abetted by thick vegetation within the surrounding. And enjoying two ladies and two young men playing their guitars to beat the cold night.

Camping Site

Camping Site

Many will be surprised why I became a fleeting farmer. This was fun to me as I have never knelt on my knees for quite some years preparing garden to plant vegetable crops such as tomatoes, onions, etc. This was made possible courtesy of Amir as I joined the team who traveled from different parts of the country for this retreat. And as I recounted what many tremendous experiences and excitements I went through in this Atlas Corps Fellowship, I just felt hilarious for this wonderful adventure I endured at the capital camps.

These experiences summed up my exceptional memories I will not forget when I concluded this fellowship soon as this has explored many prospects and surprises encounters. As I figured all these adventures, my beings a temporary Farmer has been a fun fair rather than what I had thought of, because, I never anticipated that I would do this alongside my busy finance and accounting schedules, where I am used to see figures of single digits to twelve digits and this was another break from instant bonding to computer screens. And I can be candid to tell you that I love this accounting stuff, because it keeps me busy all through.

This is so comical but a learning experience away from offices of Oakland but to spend three weeks is wired in a place I almost called it a jungle where I camp in the thick forest of Waynesboro…..and I will remember this camping in as many years to come that I was here and that I was part of the Jewish community.