Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sisterly Love

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Camp_0323I had a lot of dreams and goals for my kids when I sent them to camp.  They are both so comfortable in their own skin, I wanted a place that would continue to make them feel like that when they were in the middle of mean girl/middle school stuff. I wanted them to have those friendships that ran so deep, you can barely stand to be apart from each other.  I wanted them to read by flashlight, not care when their feet touched the bottom of the lake, feel like I did when they celebrated Shabbat under the trees.

I wanted them to be part of a community that was their own (living in the same town and going to the same temple where their father and I grew up … I am imagining it can get a little old).  Learn how to make decisions and deal with the consequences when I am not there to help put the pieces back together. One thing I never thought about was how their relationship as sisters would grow.

Over the past three summers, they have embarked on the incredible journey of camp and as my younger daughter has joined my older daughter, I have seen an incredible level of friendship and sisterhood develop between the two.  Camp strengthening their relationship just wasn’t on my neat little check-off list of things to talk to a camp director about.  Yet, it has been an incredible thing to watch.

I have been very careful not to tell my older daughter to check-up on her sister, especially the first year or so. I hadn’t wanted to put the pressure on her or make her responsible for her sister’s good time.  They are very close at home.  Not telling secrets in the dark (though I think that will come), but happy to cheer each other on at softball and soccer games, be each other’s favorite playmate and genuinely miss each other when they spend the day apart.  I mean, it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, they’ve got the fighting over clothes thing down pretty well and one is always making the other late for school.  Though when I glanced at their camp cubbies, it was hard to tell who’s was who’s – even though they are a few bunks apart – the clothes seemed to be shared much happier here.

This is the first year they are both at camp for seven weeks so I was a little worried how we were going to give both of them the proper individual attention they needed at visiting day.  Worry not necessary.  They had sat together and planned the day for us – they even had a rain plan (which included lots of ice cream of course). They knew all about each other’s visits to the infirmary and bug bite care. The counselors told us how they check up on each other at every meal.  As we were getting ready to leave visiting day, my nine-year-old had a mini-melt down – not ready to see the day end.  As I comforted one, I overheard her big sister making a plan with the counselor so she could come put her to bed later that night.

I am excited for their return and to see the closeness that has developed over another three weeks. No one will understand the post-camp funk better than a real sister experiencing the same thing. They’ll come home speaking almost a different language filled with secret jokes and song lyrics.  Last year, I almost felt like a stranger in my own home after they returned.  Good thing I will have trunks full of laundry to keep me busy!

Posted on July 31, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Day School and Camp Program Goals

Several weeks ago, as we were gearing up for camp, I was sitting and having a lot of conversations with people.  Our primary concerns were health, safety and security, of course, as we want to welcome your children into the safest and most open arms we can provide!  Once we provided for basic needs, everyone rallied around the project of setting up the whole camp program, from learning icebreaker games to setting up a trip calendar for every unit to learn out of camp, and getting ready to plan Maccabiah (color war/Olympics/etc).

Just as we have essential curriculum and progression in school, including my beloved day school, The Davis Academy, so too do we set curriculum that goes through a child’s years in camp.  In the Programming Castle (because we like to nickname buildings, people, activities, and things at camp), each unit’s dedicated programmer crafts a schedule filled with programs addressing their unit’s enduring understandings and essential questions.  “Why does being Jewish matter?” they ask our oldest campers.  “We are all a part of K’lal Yisrael/the people of Israel” responds a younger unit.  This framework allows for structure fun sessions, as well as a healthy mindset for working, living, learning and enjoying our experiential Jewish summer home.

The following email, edited slightly from its original version, shows the bridging of the two kinds of educational venues, two totally different settings, and two totally identical program goals, addressing the important question of “how do we build a Jewish community together?”

Dear Community Rabbi,

I hope this email finds you well.

We’re gearing up for camp and one of our Programmers is preparing a program about setting a new place, and deciding how to establish the Jewish community.  I’ve included the programmer on this email so you two can connect.

The program idea reminds me very much of the program you did with the 5th graders at our day school before they went on their trip to Savannah, GA!  I was hoping that you two would be able to touch base about this program while you’re at camp for the first week and a half.

Looking forward to seeing you at day school graduation.

All the best,
Your Friendly, Neighborhood Nadiv Educator

Posted on July 29, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

What Capture The Flag Has to Do With the Torah

miriamWe have just begun our third and final session for the summer here at Ranch Camp. With just shy of 210 campers, camp is abuzz with constant noise, activity, and fun.

The other night we had our traditional second night game of Capture the Degel (flag), which pits adom (red) against kachol (blue). All the campers run back to their cabins after dinner to dress in their team colors and mentally prepare for the game at hand. Then everyone gathers at the designated “Center Line” to rally their team and begin to play. Capture the Degel is definitely a camper favorite and is an activity that is greatly anticipated and looked forward to by all. Perhaps it’s the sense of competition, or the ability to roam around camp with a sense of freedom but also with purpose, or maybe its that the game arouses a deep-seeded sense of tribalism within our human psyche. Whatever it is about this game that makes it so beloved, a camp session would not be complete without it.

Although it might not appear so at first glance, Capture the Degel is a great teaching-learning opportunity within our camp environment. To begin with, the game is all about teamwork. Even though it seems like it is each man for himself out there in the field, you are not striving for personal glory but rather for team honor. There is a common goal (to find and capture the other team’s degel) but each person must do their part, and sometimes make personal sacrifices, in order to achieve the ultimate goal at hand. This game also reinforces our summer theme of kehillah (community). As opposed to most of the activities that we do at camp during a session, Capture the Degel divides the camp into two teams and this means that campers of all ages, banim (boys) and banot (girls), get mixed together and have a chance to interact. It is really neat to see our youngest campers side-by-side with our oldest campers and witness how they support and encourage one another during the game. Smaller campers are often faster and more stealthy than their older camper peers, while older and more experienced campers can offer strength, stamina, and strategy. In this way, everyone has a sense of value and worth and each individual is a commodity to their team.

Last Shabbat we read the portion Va-etchanan, where we read the Shema and Ten Commandments. It’s an incredibly important parasha that has informed the fundamental principles of modern human society. It speaks to the oneness of G-d, of each individual who was made in G-d’s image, and outlines how we should treat one another. Activities that we do at camp, like Capture the Degel, give children a hands-on opportunity to live and experience these principles first hand, making them stronger as individuals and making us a tighter kehillah.

Shabbat Shalom!
Miriam and Gilad

Posted on July 26, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Sweet n’ Nutty Granola Bars + Tips for Healthy Eating at Camp

rachelMaybe healthy eating has been a struggle between you and your kids this year, or maybe they are happy to chow down on roasted broccoli, whole wheat pasta and grilled chicken.  Either way, once the kids head off to camp you will no longer be able to guide them towards making healthy choices at meal and snack times.  Camp is a time for kids to enjoy and let loose a little, but it’s also a time for them to assume some responsibility and assert some of that beautiful independence that is fighting to be set free.   So, with that in mind, think about sharing these tips for healthy eating at camp with your camper (perhaps while you munch on the fabulous granola bar recipe below).

  1. When able, choose fruits, low fat milk, and whole grain cereals at breakfast.  Try to avoid juice and sugary cereals.
  2. If there is a salad bar, have a green salad with lots of vegetables at lunch and dinner.
  3. If you get canteen on a daily basis or if you have snack food in your cabin, try to limit yourself to 1 item of junk food a day and try to avoid sugary drinks like soda, juices, sports drinks and iced teas.
  4. Try to be aware of how much you are eating and stop when you are full.  If you rate how full you are on a scale of 1-5, and 1 is still hungry and 5 is OVER full, you should stop at a 3.
  5. If chicken has skin on in, remove before eating.
  6. Try to have fruit as a dessert or snack when and if you can.
  7. Try to have some protein with every meal.  Foods high in protein are: Greek yogurt, eggs, tofu, beans, meat, chicken and fish.
  8. When possible, choose whole wheat bread over white bread.
  9. Only drink water at meals.
  10. Eating isn’t a race!  Remember to eat slowly so you can appreciate and digest your food.

Sweet n’ Nutty Granola Bars

Ingredients
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8-by-11-inch pan with parchment paper.  Whisk egg, egg white, sugar, oil, cinnamon, ginger salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in oats, pistachios, apricots and flour. Spread in prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool; cut into 15 bars with a lightly oiled knife.

Posted on July 24, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Home Sweet Home

Throughout the school year, my daughter’s Instagram feed is filled with posts from friends  - “#campzipcode is my home,” “100 days until I’m HOME” and “meet me at HOME #campzipcode.” And it makes sense – as a parent, you probably spent hours picking out the perfect camp for your family.  You talked to the directors and other families and probably most importantly, made sure the camp values matched that of your own. Camp is a place where we send our children to build their identity, create memories and friendships. When I see these posts and hear that my kids feel that camp is their second home, it is almost like they are giving me a blue ribbon that says “Job well done, Mom, you picked the right place for me!”

There has been a lot of camp talk in the media lately that, honestly, makes me cringe and want to look away. Recently the NY Times ran a piece about care packages and of course, there’s that piece about visiting day whose name I can’t even bring myself to type.

If kids see camp as their second home, why can’t we – as parents – respect that and not try to undo what camps try so hard to create? Why do visiting day and care packages become a way to outdo each other? Why do we feel the need to break all the rules, and win our kids love with the biggest candy tower? Are these the values we are looking to instill in our children – score more goals than the kid next to you, I hope you get more turns on the pottery wheel and your clay bowls are bigger than the kid in the bunk above you?

If another kid came into our home and behaved the way we do when it comes to camp – I can only imagine what would ensue. We have all asked our children not to bring ‘that kid’ home after school. In my house – like most homes – we set rules and expect our children and their friends to abide by them. We don’t have many rules (I am on the verge of teenagers so I am sure they are coming) – be kind, be inclusive, be honest, don’t eat chocolate on the couch, get your homework done before Oovoo-ing with your friends…  Yet, when a camp sets similar reasonable rules we set the example for our children by hollowing out deodorant bottles as a hiding place for candy.  OMG – there is a gummy bear emergency in Bunk Aleph!  Think about the position you are putting your child in when they find the hidden candy or even worse, a hidden cellphone in a sock.  They need to “hide the contraband” from the counselors they are supposed to respect and look up to and ask their friends to keep secrets.

We will never stop running towards our kids on visiting day.  When we scope out places for our tents and blankets on Visiting Day do we put cracks in the community that our children created? Do we need to cover their beds in candy towers, Rice Krispie ice cream cones and dozens of Sprinkles cupcakes? At camp we encourage kids to discover new parts to themselves and make new connections. Why can’t that apply to their relationship with their parents too?  It need not be about the loot. The kids just want us. Our full attention – so they can show off their favorite places in camp, introduce us to 200 of their new best friends and tell the stories that make this magical place of camp, their second home.

When parents hide cellphones in socks and balloons in between the pages of magazines trying to get around the flat care package only rule, they are taking the staff (remember the staff – you asked a million questions on how they are trained, where they come from etc) away from doing what they are supposed to be doing – creating a community, facilitating learning, cheering on your child as they accomplish something new.

This is their other home, and the camp directors set the rules – we expect the kids to follow all the ones at camp, not just the ones they like, right? Like at home, the rules are there to keep them safe and happy. Camps directors spend hours analyzing camper photographers, deciding if they should allow packages or determining how to communicate with parents. The sooner we learn to respect those rules and decisions, the sooner we can expect to enjoy some of the magic from our campers summer homes to seep into our own.

Posted on July 23, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Standing Up to Bullying

Watch this moving short video about Eisner and Crane Lake Camps’ work educating students about bullying:

This was a day unlike any other in my 19 years with Eisner and Crane Lake Camps — in the most remarkable and beautiful way. For years, our camp community has heard me speak about Eisner and Crane Lake Camps under a “bubble.” We want camp to be a safe space where people can be themselves in all of their diversity and uniqueness, knowing they wouldn’t be judged. Over the past year, it has become clear to me that we needed to do what we could to push the safety of that bubble out into the communities where our campers and staff live. We’ve heard story after story of kids being victimized by bullies— story after story of kids taking their own lives due to bullying. And we know that as Jews, we can’t stand idly by the suffering of our neighbors.

Our second-year Olim Fellows (leadership program for second year staff) had an incredible experience at their retreat at Camp Coleman in the fall of 2012, where together we viewed the documentary “Bully,” about communities across the country and their struggles with the realities of bullying in their school systems. The Olim Fellows came away determined to create a day of programming which would inspire the campers and staff of Eisner and Crane Lake Camps to be the change we want to see in the world when it comes to bullying.

The day began with the entire Eisner community in the Beit Tefilah, our outdoor sanctuary. It began with the Jewish story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, when hurtful words and actions tore apart a community that stood by rather than stood up. It continued with the refrain of a brand new song that artist in residence, Alan Goodis, wrote with the help of Eisner campers all this week. “You can beat me up, tear me down, I will not hide/’Cause I got a feeling that everything will be alright.” Together, we set the stage for a day that would be about both acknowledging the realities of bullying and committing ourselves to changing the world through our actions.

Campers and staff experienced the meaningful programming our Olim Fellows created. We reflected on the reality that, when we feel good about ourselves, we neither bully nor are susceptible to bullies. Each camper shared what made them proudest about themselves; each camper took the opportunity to practice finding the good in each person; each camper had a role-play experience of being the bully and someone who was being bullied, all of us learned how to stand up against bullies and stand up for victims of bullying.

Each unit also spent some incredible, emotional time with David Long. David and his wife Tina’s son Tyler lost his life to bullycide three and a half years ago after years of abuse and bullying. Their story was one of the five stories told in the “Bully” documentary. David shared the work that he and his foundation, “Everything Starts With 1,” are doing to teach young people about the scourge of bullying, and to teach educators of all kinds to respond effectively to that behavior. Mr. Long challenged all of us to be “upstanders” rather than “bystanders”– to use our voices to combat bullying wherever we encounter it, and to intervene rather than let our friends be victims of bullying.

Our campers responded deeply with his emotional presentation, asking questions about how they each can combat this behavior, sharing experiences of what it feels like to be the object of bullying, and beginning to imagine what it might look like to act against bullying back home. I was so proud of our Olim Fellows, our staff, and our faculty as they guided us through break-out discussions after these sessions to check in with how the kids had responded to the sessions; it was clear that although most kids had experienced some form of anti-bullying programming in their schools, this day felt different somehow– more personal because of David Long’s presentation, more real because of the incredible experience the Olim Fellows created for us all, more attainable because of the chance to put what we were learning immediately into action at Eisner Camp.

As Shabbat approached, we came together for Kabbalat Shabbat as a camp, to sing songs greeting Shabbat, and to reflect on the lessons we learned in this incredible day. Each camper had written on an index card a behavior that they weren’t proud of– some way in which they had excluded someone; something they had done with regards to bullying they wished they had done differently. We took those cards and burned them in a bonfire, affirming that we can let go of old patterns of behavior. We can change, we can begin that process here at camp and continue it back home. So, too, each camper had written an oath on a piece of ribbon. Each camper wrote their own oath about what they would commit to do going forward. They each made a promise about how they would combat bullying everywhere they encountered it. Those oaths were tied to the edges of a permanent sukkah that our art and maintenance staff had created. Each of us then walked through that sukkah– a shelter of peace, as we made our way back to the Beit Tefillah for Erev Shabbat services lead beautifully by Bonim, our 4th and 5th grade campers.

Today was an extraordinary day at Eisner Camp, because we each resolved to push that bubble out– expand that sukkah of peace, that we might make the world better and safer because we’re in it.

Posted on July 19, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Homesick

After two 15 year old boys performed a passionate, if not pitch perfect, duet of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” after a cabin of girls brushed their teeth onstage using guacamole for toothpaste, after a slew of performances both great and courageous got unanimous rounds of applause, after all the hot chocolate in camp had been consumed, after all that was the Bogrim (young adults) Coffee House on Tuesday night at Camp Kingswood, the chadar ochel (dining hall) emptied out. And when the campers and counselors had all left to go to bed, that’s when the real magic moment happened.

0723_110811-FJC_x46I stayed after the Coffee House on Tuesday to have a conversation with six staff members, all new to camp, all from outside the United States. Three Israelis, two Aussies, and a Brit. We had a wide-ranging conversation about their impressions of camp, the people, the environment, the Judaism. One Australian, non-Jewish staff member spoke with pride at the fact that she had memorized Birkat HaMazon and loved singing it at the end of each meal with her campers. One Israeli staff member talked about how amazing it is that the kitchen can produce almost a thousand meals a day and still have the food be delicious! But those tidbits were merely appetizers for the best comment of the night.

Sometimes when it rains, it pours.  In my 22 years of spending summers at camp, I have found that this axiom is especially true at camp. The storms are bigger in the summertime, in the woods. Or at least they feel that way when you’re hanging out in a wood cabin, hearing the raindrops pound the roof while you play rafter ball with your buddies. In the case of Camp Kingswood, by the time I got to camp on Monday it had rained nine of the previous 12 days. After I left on Wednesday, that number has risen to 11 of the previous 14. Not to say that people weren’t having the time of their lives – in fact, rain days at camp can be so much fun! Unless you’re on swim staff. Then things get interesting. You play games indoors, you come up with rain plans for evening activies…like casino night!

It was at casino night that one staff member, a member of swim staff whose hopes of teaching swimming had been stymied by mother nature for more than a week, fell down and broke her arm. It instantly became an impossibility that this staff member would get to teach swimming anytime soon, or even lifeguard down at the lake. One could imagine this staff member feeling a bit down, needing a boost from her childhood friends. We are at camp, after all. But this staff member was in her first year at Kingswood, traveling all the way from England to work on swim staff at a summer camp in Maine. So when she finished telling me her story, I was sure this staff member would talk about how frustrated she was, how disappointed, how bummed or sad. But that wouldn’t make a very good blog post, would it?

We were going around the circle, describing our summers, and this staff member declared with a huge smile on her face, that one thing has surprised her more than anything else at camp: not once has she felt homesick. After the broken arm, she spoke on the phone with her mother. And she told her mom the same thing. Sad about the arm, thrilled to be at camp. Not homesick one bit. I had to ask her why? What about Kingswood makes her feel the way she does? Her answer? Everyone at Kingswood treats it like it’s their second home, so I do as well. It’s like having a second family. How could anyone be homesick here?

Of course, many people do feel homesick at camp. Especially their first summer. Especially young campers and new staff. But Camp Kingswood has given us all an aspirational goal: to make our camps feel like a home, and our community like a family. Camp Kingswood is lucky to have a staff member with an indomitably happy spirit, and that staff member is lucky to have Camp Kingswood – a camp that’s more than a camp. A camp that’s a home.

Posted on July 15, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Summer Lovin’ – Mollie & Jon

MOLLIE & JON BECKER

campWhen/how/where at camp did you meet?
We knew each other since we were Oles, the youngest age group at Camp Tevya.  It wasn’t until the year before my Kinneret summer when I was 13 and Jon’s Tel Chai summer when he was 15 that we actually started talking.  We spent hours on end instant messaging and writing emails and then that summer, Jon asked me to be his girlfriend.  On the second night of camp, we were walking back from evening activity in the Girls Rec Hall and right before we passed the girl’s porch, Jon asked me if I wanted to “make it official.”

Was it love right away?
I think it was.  We were inseparable that first summer and for every summer after that.

What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
Like all “serious” couples, during the last week of camp, we had a talk about what would happen over the year.  I remember sitting on the stone wall outside of the El Bess building right before the Ole play.  I was so nervous.  Jon said that he wanted to try and make it work and that we would call each other and visit one another over the year.  Living in two different states (Jon lived in Canton, MA and I grew up in Ambler, PA) was hard but we saw each other a handful of times during that year and talked on the phone constantly.  Needless to say, our parents were both not happy about the cost of our long distance phone calls.

Each summer from 1998 to 2003 we went back to camp together and during the school years we saw each other frequently.  In 2001, Jon graduated high school and went to school in Manchester, NH.  The following year, I went to school in Waltham, MA.  My parents always joked around that my only requirement for a college was that it was within an hour of Jon.  They were right!

nowOn New Year’s Eve in 2006, Jon proposed along Rose Warf in Boston.  The next year he moved to Philadelphia and then in 2008, we were married with many Camp Tevya alumni present to celebrate our big day.

A lot has happen since that first summer.  It is hard to believe that fifteen years have passed but what an incredible fifteen years it has been!  All thanks to our favorite place in the world-Camp Tevya!

Will you send your kids to your camp?
There is no doubt in our minds!  We will be signing Hailey up for double Dalia as soon as she is old enough.  As soon as she understands, we will start telling her stories about camp and she will know that there is no where better to spend her summers than at Camp Tevya!

Mollie and Jon Becker have been together for 15 years – ever since that first summer at Camp Tevya.  They currently live in Ambler, PA with their dog Pebbles, daughter Hailey, and are expecting another child in the fall of 2013.  Mollie works as a Project Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia and Jon is a SAP consultant who travels all over for IBM.  In March of this year, they celebrated their five year wedding anniversary.

Posted on July 12, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Can We Really Unplug?

There was recently an article about how camps can help kids unplug from their everyday lives. We read it (online, of course!) while noting the irony that so many of our camps are “electronics free” but we – the directors, assistant directors, and other senior staff members – cringe at the thought of being off-line for even an hour during the summer. While we tout the importance of campers unplugging, we start to sweat the moment our e-mail goes down.

jrfWhen did this happen? When did technology take over our camps? When did a handwritten list handed to a staff member make us appear out-of-date or disorganized? When did a photographer with a digital camera and Bunk1 access become a necessary position? We are in our late 30s and early 40s; while we are fairly computer savvy, we are still very much able to play the “I am older than cell phones” card with our staff. We remember calling home from a payphone and our parents exclaiming that we sounded “just like we’re next door!”

Don’t get us wrong – we aren’t scared of change; there are both good and bad things that come from more technology. We’re just confused. We recall a time, not so long ago, when camps were in their own bubbles. The “outside world” had little effect on our campers’ lives. Now, within five minutes of the recent Supreme Court decision on DOMA, we were celebrating and sharing the information with our campers and staff. And when a camper asked the details of how the Court voted, we didn’t hesitate to run to the internet to get him the information. And it’s not only about the outside world – it’s also about our camper families. We answer parents (including our own) about when photos will be up, what we’re eating for lunch, and why a child doesn’t appear to be wearing sunscreen. We e-mail parents en masse to keep them updated and we post to Facebook regularly (including from our cell phones when the power goes out!).

On the other hand, we expect that our campers will have no access to any of this technology. We require that all approved electronics are in airplane mode – and we are envious of those camps that have a “no screens” policy. But, at the same time, we wonder if sneaking in an iPad or liking a post on Facebook from a cabin a few steps from the office is really a punishable offense. How can we expect our campers to stop texting, updating, and chatting “cold turkey,” when they submit papers, complete college applications, and talk to their friends online the other eleven months of the year? And how can we, who pride ourselves on building and sustaining community, tell first year staff that they can’t be Facebook friends with kids one year younger than them who – just three days earlier – had been their best friend?

We used to say that we wouldn’t ask our staff or campers to do anything we wouldn’t do or haven’t done for ourselves. We are always happy to jump in to run a program, stay up late, wash dishes, or plunge a toilet. But ask us to give up our internet and we’re not sure we can agree. How could we know what’s going on in our world? How could we stay in touch with our families? How could we write blog posts like this? Hmmm – this has us stumped. Maybe we should check Google for some advice….

Posted on July 11, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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Copy of 110707.CampJRF.-326By now, you have read our post “Why I Hate the Photographer at Camp”  but parents still seem to be pouring over the thousands of camp pictures posted everyday with intense scrutiny (yes, we are guilty as charged!).  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Before you pick up the phone to call the camp director, take a step back and be careful you are not putting words into your kid’s mouth this summer. Be grateful for the smiles, the glimpses of the back of heads and the one time you may actually see siblings together.  Here are some re-interpretations of the worst case scenario running through your head while hitting refresh, refresh, refresh.

IN THE 407th PICTURE POSTED YESTERDAY, MY KID LOOKS PAINED.  CAN’T YOU SEE HIM?  HE IS BEHIND 17 OTHER KIDS WHO ARE ALL SMILING.
Yup, he probably just missed a jump shot or he is debating who is going to win the World Series with someone not in the picture. Not every kid is going to be smiling every second of the day.  You sent him to camp to gain independence.  That means figuring out the bad stuff with the good.

THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY DAUGHTER’S LEGS.  SHE IS WEARING JEANS AND SHE NEVER EVER WEARS JEANS. I DIDN’T EVEN PACK ANY!
She just got back from a morning hike, and was required to wear jeans (you know, to protect her from the wilds). Don’t fret, she saw the sunrise over the lake from a mountain top and made breakfast over a campfire.  The best morning ever. Or her friends were all wearing jeans so she borrowed a pair for the skit they are doing in the talent show that night.

WE PACKED 10 BASEBALL HATS AND MY SON IS WEARING THE SAME ONE EVERYDAY!
Obviously this hat is the favorite.  And when he is running out of the bunk, eager to start the day, he grabs what is easiest, the one on top from yesterday.

MY DAUGHTER LOVES TENNIS. IT IS HER LIFE.  BUT I NEVER SEE PICTURES OF HER PLAYING AT CAMP!  She is at camp to try new things.  There are probably a bazillion pictures of her doing stuff she can’t do at home.  Now that’s pretty cool.

MY KID ISN’T WEARING HIS OWN SHIRT/PANTS/SWEATSHIRT.  WHY??
Instead of freaking out that he hasn’t unpacked or can’t find his cubby, think how awesome it is that he has a friend that he can borrow from. You sent him to camp to build lifelong friendships – sometimes that starts with borrowing a t-shirt. Most likely, he was supposed to wear a certain color for a team something and his bunkmates t-shirt was just that much cooler.

ALL MY DAUGHTER’S FRIENDS ARE IN THE PICTURES ON THE LAKE, WHERE IS MY KID?!?!?  It was probably her turn to waterski – she learned a 360 that day.  She may have had to go to the bathroom or decided to be buddies with her little sister that day.  How proud are you now?

I SENT 17 TOWELS FOR SWIM AND 10 FOR SHOWERING, AND HE IS USING THE SAME ONE FOR BOTH… EVERYDAY!  Yeah, this one is annoying and that towel probably does smell terrible.  Be glad that you are not the one that has to wash it.  It will probably get lost before it comes home.

IT’S SHABBAT AND MY KID IS NOT SINGING.  DIDN’T THEY TEACHER HIM THE WORDS. OMG, SHE MUST FEEL LEFT OUT. Have you ever experienced Shabbat at camp?  It is pretty powerful.  Look around him – the scenery, the guitars – he is just taking in the moment.  A pause in a hectic week.  And if he doesn’t know the words the first week, he will by next Shabbat.

MY KID IS ON THE END OF THE GROUP PICTURE. DOESN’T SHE HAVE ANY FRIENDS?  I DON’T RECOGNIZE THE KIDS SHE IS WITH.  You told her to jump in any picture she could, didn’t you?

Feel any better? No? Me neither, I guess I’ll just sit on my hands so I can’t call camp. I promised my husband I wouldn’t be “that mom”…

Posted on July 3, 2013

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