The Nivonim (entering 11th grade) spent part of their morning preparing for t’fillah for the summer. They had a “t’fillah auction” to help sign up campers, both the experienced and novices, to lead various parts of prayer services for the entire summer. On the far wall of the Moadon Chadash was taped huge poster board with every t’fillah opening for the summer. The banim (boys) and banot (girls) were split up to compete relay race style and sign up for t’fillah roles for the summer—everything from Torah readings, to leading Ma’ariv, to closing and opening the Ark. They were encouraged to sign up for anything they could already lead or were interested in learning how to lead this summer. For every open slot filled, the banim or the banot received one point, which would go toward prizes for the summer.
After the first round of the race they had filled out half of the summer calendar. The Nivonim campers sat down again and were addressed by their counselors: this would be their chance to really grow Jewishly, to daven (pray) and lead their aidah (division). So many of the Nivonim campers do not have the same opportunities to lead t’fillah during the year, and this is their chance to do so at camp. This, the counselors explained, was an opportunity for them to grow as individuals, as Nivonim, and as representatives of Camp Ramah.
When another round of the race was over, only 20% of the poster board was left vacant. The counselors encouraged Nivonim with a final push: they were so proud of the campers who had signed up for areas of t’fillah they’d never led before, or had led infrequently. Campers who signed up for areas outside of their comfort zone will have the opportunity to learn from their counselors how to read Haftarah, how to lead musaf for Shabbat, how to sing Havdallah. There was so much nachas (proud feelings) in the room both on the part of counselors and the Nivonim, and the chart for this summer’s t’fillah is now complete.