Reflections on the Start of Shoafim

by Ari Vandersluis, Rosh Shoafim


The first two weeks for Shoafim 2018 have been full of new experiences, exciting activities, and blossoming friendships. This energetic and compassionate group spent these weeks engaging in new programs at camp like an outdoors Master Chef challenge, cooking in the brand new instructional kitchen, and exploring the lake on camp’s brand new paddle boards. While the daily activities have allowed for some great new skills and projects, nothing has compared to the friendships and acts of togetherness that have taken place in these first couple weeks.

Perhaps the most notable example of this came this past Friday night after Shabbat dinner. As per usual, when we finished our delicious brisket meal, we came together with the other eidot in our dining hall and sang some zmirot (songs) to welcome in the Shabbat. However, unlike most weeks, when we finished singing, the Shoafim campers decided that they wanted to keep the celebrations going. As a collective unit, they began running out of the dining hall toward the Kikar. Anxiously, the staff and I ran after them, yet we were surprised by what we found. The 45 Shoafim campers had made their way to the Shabbat candles, still lit on the Kikar from earlier in the evening, glimmering next to the sunset over Lake Buckatabon. They were dancing in a circle around the candles, singing the words to one of their favorite zmirot on loop. They sang and danced looking over the lake, counting the amount of times they could sing the words to what has become an anthem for the eidah – 56, 57, 58 times. In unity, they kept the celebration going and welcomed Shabbat in a way that was inclusive, exciting, and powerful; in a way unique to Camp Ramah.