Joyful Moments for Every Camper
by Sophia Fineberg

Riding the wave of a joyous Purim, this week I want to focus on the pillar of אושר / osher, joy. There were an overwhelming number of joyous moments at camp this past summer, but one immediately comes to my mind. On a Tuesday night in the theatre (teatron), Nivonim (11th grade) was beginning an evening activity with Atzmayim, the participants in our vocational program. All of the participants and campers were placed onto teams and instructed to perform in a lip synch battle. Each team, composed of Nivonim campers and Atzmayim participants, had to create a performance to a different song chosen by the counselors. I began the evening watching from afar, amazed at the happiness exuded by campers and participants alike. As the program wore on, I could not help but be subsumed by the whirling, singing, dancing, tornado of joy that was the evening. Counselors, staff members, campers, and participants were singing and dancing on the stage to everything from Josh Warshawsky to Taylor Swift. This being my first summer at camp, I distinctly remember walking out at the end and turning to one of my co-counselors, saying: “I get the hype about Ramah now.”

I spent my time at camp last summer amazed by the intentionality of the summer.  For many, many campers, the joy of experiencing everything is apparent on their faces.  And beyond that, Ramah sets up opportunities for campers of diverse interests to shine.  In addition to the overall through line of pride in one’s eidah and a culture of supporting everyone’s achievements, camp provides opportunities for those who love singing, dancing, and performing, through the Broadway musicals, eidah- and camp-wide talent shows, and the Rikkudiyah dance festival; leadership roles in Jewish ritual and expressions of Jewish knowledge and spirituality through daily t’filot (services) and other cultural opportunities each week and summer; campers who thrive on sports and general competition enjoy inter-eidah games and our camp-wide Yom Sport; and counselors across camp work to help each one of their campers shine. Ramah is a place that fosters ways for particular campers to shine and, equally importantly, gives their peers the opportunity to cheer them on. Every child has a moment in the spotlight, and every child has many moments to celebrate others for shining. This is the beauty of camp, and I am overjoyed to be part of it.

Sophia Fineberg is a senior at Barnard and JTS from Dallas, Texas. She will be Rosh Garinim at camp this summer and is so excited for the many joyful moments to come!