Shabbat-O-Gram Week 3
Dear parents and friends,
Last night, with the sun shining for the first Friday night of the session, we celebrated Shabbat outside in our camp chapel, instead of indoors. It was magical. If you haven’t had a chance yet, I encourage you to take a moment to watch the clip I posted on Facebook yesterday. It’s one of my favorite moments of our Kingswood Friday Night service, when we sing a mash-up of Mi Chamocha (‘Who Is Like You,’ a standard part of a Shabbat service celebrating the moment Jews crossed the Red Sea) and ‘Velvet Sea,’ a modern song by one of my personal favorite bands, Phish. Brought to Kingswood years ago by Mitch in his first stint as Kingswood director, the mash-up has made its way across several camps, and it always fills me up when I hear it. As I leaned over and said to Mitch, if I can’t be at an actual live concert until after camp this summer, being at our camp Friday night service is a pretty amazing substitute! As a music-lover, here at Kingswood, it’s hard to pick just one favorite moment of our Friday night. The Matisyahu ‘One Day’ combo with Aleinu, the concluding prayer, is also a peak moment, when everyone – from the smallest Ol’ to the oldest Chalutz, is feeling the love of being a part of the Kingswood community, arms around each other, swaying and clapping through the song. Not to be cheesy, but it’s Saturday morning, and I’m still getting goosebumps thinking about it.
During services last night we took a few minutes to recognize and celebrate ways we’ve learned and grown this session. Campers called out new skills they’ve acquired, ranging from wake boarding, to starting a fire with a single match, to sailing, to learning how to be more patient when sharing a room with a bunch of other kids, even when they get annoying. I shared with them that in this week’s Torah portion, D’varim, we see a word appear for the first time – the word for to learn, or to teach. We talked about how we remember Moses – one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history – as ‘Moshe Rabeinu’ – Moses the teacher – because of all the hats he wore as a leader, that’s the one that’s most central to his identity now – his role as a teacher. How in the Jewish tradition, teachers like Moses are celebrated as heroes, and here too, at camp, we celebrate our teachers, our heroes – our staff. We talked about how we have learned these new skills in camp thanks to the efforts of our teachers – our amazing camp staff. Coincidentally, this week – the last Shabbat of our session – we read the chapter of the Torah where this word appears not only for the first time, but seventeen times. That’s how important teachers are in this story of the Torah, just like here at camp. Our counselors have come to feel like such important people in our own lives. The amazing role models we have here at Kingswood who teach us patiently and lovingly how to stand on skis and shoot an arrow, and who also model for us how to live our Kingswood values of community, courage, responsibility and ruach (spirit).
I would have written about this yesterday, but it’s hard to pull myself away from Friday night at camp. Right after services and dinner we go into Ruach (spirit), another long-standing Kingswood tradition, where everyone’s on their feet alternating all-group Israeli dancing, a rousing song session, and floor-shaking renditions of everyone’s favorite camp cheers. When each unit is called for their turn to leave and go to bed, there’s a collective groan as campers beg to stay for just one more song. You may be thinking, that’s adorable, but there’s no way my 11-year-old boy is up doing line dances and stomping his feet! I’ve got news for you…just look at the photos from any Ruach session this month and you’ll see what I see – kids of all ages and interests up on their feet, feeling the energy and excitement of being a part of something bigger than themselves. Usually, we give in for one extra song. 🙂
Last night, peppered in between songs, we heard some reflections about camp from campers who had signed up to share a ‘creative expression.’ I thought it was only fitting to end by sharing a poem, ‘Camp Friends,’ written and read by a Tsofim camper:
They know when you’re not at your best and when you need some time to rest.
They will be there for you your whole life, and they always give you good advice.
My camp friends are nice, kind, and sweet, and I’ve loved being with them these three weeks.
They are my family and they will always be.