In this week’s parsha, we read the story of Balak, the mighty King of Moab. Upon learning that the Israelites are getting ever closer to the Promised Land, he decides to try and thwart their movement. He does this by sending the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. But Balaam’s own efforts are thwarted when God directly intervenes. On three occasions Balaam attempts to curse the Jews, and instead, each time blessings issue forth from his mouth.
The word balak means “cut off.” It calls to mind the times when we can feel detached, worthless, and dejected just when we are about to reach a goal – our own “promised land.” In these cases, it’s easy to lose oneself and let doubts take control. It’s easy to forget the initial courage, passion, and inspiration that got us on the path.
In these moments, it is vital to remember that just as Balaam’s curses were turned into blessings, so too can our negative mindsets. Everyone can be their own worst enemy and their greatest hero. When you feel cut off and surrounded by negativity, one cannot forget that you have the ability to transform this into productive positivity.
This lesson is so important in the competitive and tough world of business, and it’s a core lesson we try to instill in our campers here at Camp Inc. There are certainly many opportunities for one to enter a world of doubt. You are away from home, maybe for the first time, in a completely new environment with people you don’t know. You are running on a schedule that is not familiar, you are doing different activities that are not part of your normal life, and finally, you have the challenge of creating a business in two weeks with all the inherent challenges of a new collaboration.
As our campers enter Demo Day where they will present their start-up pitches, as well as marketing and coding projects, it’s an amazing pleasure to see how far they have really come. Every camper and every team has risen to the occasion in his or her own unique way. I have watched campers with different backgrounds and ideas learn to believe in themselves, and see their dreams come to fruition. I have seen campers who were initially trepidatious overcome their fears and create brilliant new ideas in collaboration. This is in the face of all the obstacles mentioned above. It’s inspiring to see how much can change and be accomplished in just these short two and a half weeks at Camp Inc.
As we enter our final Shabbat and get ready for a bittersweet farewell, we remind our campers to remember all of the amazing positive work they have done. Most importantly, we remind them that even when the road twists in unexpected directions, to never forget to be your own greatest advocate. As they return home, our campers will take with them all of the skills, knowledge, and passion developed at camp. With this combination, I know each and every one of our campers is on the path to creating something amazing, and changing the world in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.
Landon is the Jewish Educator and Song Leader at Camp Inc.! He is originally from Vancouver, Canada and currently lives in New York City where he works as a musical theatre composer and producer. He is an active member of BASE Hillel in Brooklyn, and recently returned from Israel where he staffed a Birthright trip. Landon is thrilled to be in the spectacular Colorado Mountains for the first time, and can’t wait to make new amazing memories with everyone at Camp Inc.