I spent ten summers of my life at a Jewish overnight camp in the Northeast, so one would assume that nothing about the camping experience comes as a surprise to me. I’m already aware of how magical it can be to live in a little summer bubble where building friendships and having fun are prioritized each day.
The truth is, though, that since I arrived at Camp Inc. in Colorado a week and a half ago for leadership training, I have constantly been amazed by what’s happening in this space. It’s as if on a daily basis I’m being reminded of each and every value that was ingrained in me at an early age–values that I rarely take time to re-evaluate and act on deliberately. This is why camp is so special; creating a community with kavanah (intention). Camp is a place where bettering ourselves and the world around us is so deeply embedded into our mission, that being a mensch becomes contagious.
For example, the other day, I noticed a fellow staff member jotting down notes at lunchtime, and my name was included as a bullet point. Naturally, I asked why he wrote down my name, and he told me he’d let me know later. After a day had passed and I had already forgotten about it, my co-worker approached me and said that my name was listed on his Post-it note as a reminder to tell me that I’m doing a great job in my role so far. How amazing! Being kind and radiating positivity is so intentional at Camp Inc., it becomes a part of our daily schedule.
This focus on using our words and actions as vehicles of tikkun olam (repairing the world) is something we hope to impart on each and every camper this summer. One way to do so (with a business and entrepreneurship twist) is through our use of Chai (Life) Tiles, which was introduced to campers during our evening program last night, “The Game of Life.”
Here’s how the Chai Tiles work: There are five categories of Chai Tiles that represent different Jewish values: Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness), Ometz Lev (Courage of the Heart), Shmirat HaAdamah (Guarding the Earth), Hachnassat Orchim (Welcoming Guests), and Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home). The concept is similar to a “Monopoly” money system, where campers, with their cabins, can receive Chai Tiles and use them to buy rewards, such as a pizza party, or getting to choose a silly camp theme for a day. As we explained during the program, Chai Tiles will be rewarded when campers go above and beyond in acting on one of the five categories.
By using our shared values as a foundation of the Camp Inc. experience, we hope to create an opportunity for campers to leave here as better versions of themselves. I look forward to watching our camp community grow, play, create, learn, and improve the world.
Jordyn is the Jewish Educator at Camp Inc. this summer! She is originally from Long Island, New York, and has spent the past four years at The Ohio State University doing her undergraduate work in sociology and Judaic studies. She is thrilled about living in the beautiful mountains of Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the next couple of months! She loves spending time outdoors, and can’t wait to do plenty of that at Camp Inc.!