Listen and Look!

The third word of this week’s parashah, parashat Ekev, is תשמעון, listen. Next week’s parashah begins with the command, ראה, Look! or See! These two verbs are the perfect bookends for what needs to happen after camp ends: Listen and Look. After catching up on sleep, after the laundry is done, after the sand is swept out of the house and the Facebook accounts checked, campers often have lots to say, stories to tell and lessons to be shared. At the same time, some campers will hold their memories inside, letting their thoughts ruminate until they draw their own lessons, until they are ready to share. Regardless of an individual child’s style, our job as parents is to be ready to listen at a moment’s notice so that we can catch tidbits of our camper’s experiences. Even as I serve as the camp director, I am also a camper parent. As a result, I know that I often want to hear much more from my children about their summers than they are ready to share when they first arrive home. But when they are ready, our children share and share and we get to hear about the things they loved this summer, the challenges they faced, the way they grew as Jews and as people. This is the big payoff for us parents!

Similarly, this is the time to look, to see how are children have grown this summer. This is our chance to see the work they did in amanut (arts and crafts), to see how they developed interests in new musical instruments and to observe new athletic and theater skills our children acquired. In addition, it is also our chance to see how they grew in their Jewish commitments, in their ability to learn and think critically as Jews and to help them invest that energy and knowledge in their communities and synagogues. Conservative synagogues provide significant scholarship funds for our children. Scholarships are investments in the Jewish future and in the strengthening of the Conservative Jewish community and we encourage our campers to provide an outstanding return on that investment by getting involved during the year. You will be amazed by what you see in terms of growth in skills, social development and Jewish involvement!

Finally, this coming Monday, we will have a very special opportunity to listen and look. Thanks to the work of a group of Bogrim campers and staff members, in partnership with the fantastic artists and faculty of, Monday will be the world premier of The Mystery of the Forbidden Fruit, the first ever partnership between and a Jewish summer camp as well as the first stop-action film by G-DCast. Part of the pilot summer of Shavua Sababa, specialty week, for Bogrim, this film represents a major accomplishment on the part of our campers. This five-minute film demonstrates how Ramah emphasizes and teaches both Jewish content AND specialty skills, as well as how we are able to combine fun and friendship together with meaningful Jewish learning and experiences. The background and energy required to prepare for this kind of effort takes time, as does learning the skill of filmmaking. This is but one of many meaningful Jewish experiences and opportunities that Ramah Wisconsin campers have during the eight-week session.

I hope you enjoy the debut of the Ramah Wisconsin-G-DCast collaboration on Monday, that you listen and hear the many stories that your campers will share over the weeks to come and that you enjoy seeing all of the growth your children experienced this summer. Finally, if your children are not among the 160 campers already enrolled for the 2013 season at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin please enroll them today to qualify for the early registration incentives!

To enroll for next summer, please click here.

Thank you for entrusting us with your children this summer, for your commitment to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, and for your investment in the Jewish future.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Loren Sykes

Special thanks to Sarah Lefton, Lom Friedman and Jeanne Stern of;
To the iCenter for their generous funding of the G-DCast/Ramah Wisconsin collaboration;
To Tali Ribnik, Rosh Adat HaBogrim, for her efforts in ensuring the success of this project; and
To the campers and staff of the G-DCast Shavua Sababa program, whose names are listed in film’s credits.