The Most Important Things to Pack

0345_130813-FJC_x - CopyJewish camps across North America have opened, or are preparing to open, their gates to over 75,000 happy campers this summer. Whether you’ve already sent your trunks up to camp, or you are just starting to gather items on your packing list, remember that some of the most important things to bring with you aren’t things at all!

I recently received a pre-camp note from one of our camps. In it, was a suggested “Packing List” from Rabbi Joel Seltzer, director of Camp Ramah in the Poconos. I’d like to share it with you.

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Don’t worry – this packing list will not require another run to the store, more labeling of clothes, or any added concern about how any person is going to be able to lift the bags into the car!

So please remember to pack your kids with:

  1. A Helping Hand – Don’t forget to bring a caring spirit, always willing to help out a friend in need.
  2. An Open Mind – Remember that camp is built to offer new experiences, some of them challenging, but bring an open mind and you might just discover you found a new talent.
  3. A Love of Learning – Ramah is about growth; expanding horizons, and learning about Judaism, about Israel, and about the modern Hebrew language.
  4. A Mental Camera – Because sometimes the best moments and memories in life are captured in our minds, and shared with our friends; and not posted on Facebook.

And Finally:

  1. A Desire to Make New Friends – As you are packing, don’t forget what camp is all about – friendship!  Make sure you bring a welcoming smile, a good joke, and who knows, you might just make a new best friend this summer!

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I love this message. Yes, sunscreen and sneakers are necessary items, but instead of focusing on actual things we should be bringing, let’s focus on the things that allow us to get the most from our summer.  After all, while it’s common for kids to forget their towel or socks at camp, they always bring their experiences home with them.  And unlike material things, those experiences are irreplaceable.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Posted on June 27, 2014

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