Every specialty in camp strives to give campers a new experience, a challenge, and a lesson through fun! The Yahadut program (Jewish Studies) at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin is no different. The camp setting is a wonderful venue for engaging campers in meaningful Jewish dialogue.
For our youngest campers, the Jewish study program is built around exploring friendships in the Torah. This leads to a discussion about friendships at camp. How do you build a friendship? How should fellow campers treat each other? Campers come to view the world around them through the lens of the Torah.
In the older aidot, the program focuses on ethical and strong leadership using a variety of texts including Hebrew poetry. We examine what it means to be an effective leader. How do you practice good leadership? What does weak leadership look like? And then we put these lessons to practical use as our Nivonim become captains of Yom Sport, take on internships, and begin to plan their own activities and schedules.
Our education staff is made up of talented professionals who make learning fun, engaging and interactive. Our goal is to take the “classroom” outdoors and evoke a rich Jewish conversation. There is no homework, no tests and no deadlines. We don’t rush through material. We allow the campers to set the pace. We give each camper the opportunity to have a voice, to be heard, and listen to their peers. The learning is organic and based on camper experiences. “Whether they are transitioning to high school, or gaining independence with all the excitement and anxieties that accompany it, or taking on more responsibilities at home, camp, or in their communities, Judaism has wisdom to offer the campers at every point in their lives,” says Tamar Cytryn (pictured below, studying with campers and visitors on Visitors’ Day), an accomplished Jewish educator and Rosh Yahadut. We keep the topics diverse and always relatable.
Tamar’s enthusiasm for teaching at camp is fueled by her love for text. “I am passionate about Jewish text and it filters down to other teachers and to the campers. I work hard to bridge the formal and experiential worlds that exist in schools and Jewish organizations.” This summer Tamar is constantly challenging the staff with themes and texts, asking questions such as, “how can we utilize the camp setting to explore this week’s Jewish theme? What is the best and most fun way that this lesson can happen around camp?”
In his first Shabbat Letter from the Director (June 15), Rabbi Loren Sykes wrote, “During these first days of camp…Tamar initiated a creative program for campers to learn about their own names. Based on a work by the Hebrew poet, Zelda, the new program is titled, “L’kol ish yesh shem,” “Every Person Has a Name.” This exciting Yahadut program was a great way to kick off the summer, bridging the younger campers with the returning campers. It challenged them to think about what it means to earn a reputation, what they want to be known for here at camp, and in their lives back home.