I love camp. I have now spent 12 summers at other Jewish sleep-away camps. Camp is the place where I grew up. Camp is the place where I figured out who I was as an individual and how that individual fit into a greater community. I am a big believer in the power of camp to help children find their voice and understand how that voice mingles with other voices to form the best possible outcome.
In just the past 48 hours since our campers arrived, I have already seen the beginnings of this. During Inc. Time, different campers had the opportunity to step up and lead the whole camp—deciding what activities they would do at what times. Some of our oldest campers helped decorate the Chadar Ochel, the dinning hall, for Shabbat and what they created was so beautiful, that they were given an opportunity to speak about it during Shabbat services. Throughout the summer, every camper will have an opportunity to fill these types of leadership roles. As they step up in this way, it is clear that each camper is beginning to figure out even more clearly who s/he is, and that is also becoming clear to the rest of the campers and staff. Campers are already becoming comfortable with their cabin mates and other campers.
Tonight, our Camp Inc. campers each took a turn standing up in front of a group of other campers and answering questions about themselves. These ranged from fairly standard questions, like what’s your favorite cereal, to more intricate like, if you were a writing-implement what would you write. Then they creatively answered a question through acting and props (for example, if you were a sport, which sport would you be?) while the rest of the group tired to predict their answers. Even though most campers have only known each other for two days, they were all able to get up in front of the group and share a bit about themselves and be silly. We are only 48 hours into camp, but I can already see the camp experience having an impact on each of our campers. I am so excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring!
Sarah Magida is our Chief Fun Officer. She has her Masters in Religious Education and Masters in Jewish Nonprofit Management from Hebrew Union College. She is also a graduate of Skidmore College where she studied American Studies and Religious Studies. She spent 11 summers as a camper and staff member at the URJ Eisner Camp. Sarah prides her self on completing the NY Times crossword puzzle each Monday.