Shabbat Letter from the Director #2 2019

We’d like to thank

  • Emily Saltzman from Keshet

  • Ruach Ramah A campers and staff

for joining us this week at camp!

Please check out the bottom of the Director’s Letter every week to see questions supplied by the Roshei Aidah (Division Heads) you may want to ask your child about in the next few days.  They will always refer to programs or experiences the kids have had in the last week.

jacob+aug+18.jpg

We are barely one week into camp and, from campers and staff of all ages, I regularly hear how it feels like we’ve been here for weeks or months.  The speed with which new and veteran campers assimilate into Ramah’s rhythms and culture would be breathtaking if only we could see it happen in real time.  Cabin and aidah identities are beginning to form, inside jokes have emerged, and plans for the summer which seems to stretch out forever in front of our campers and staff are both dreamed of and realized every day.  Our aidot will present themselves to the camp for the first time on Sunday night during our Zimriyah (song festival), magically curated and organized by our beloved songwriter and songleader Rabbi Josh Warshawsky.  Next week will be filled with more camping trips, a new set of תרבות (tarbut / cultural arts) activities, continuing to build the a sense of שגרה (shigrah / routine) before we move into July and many of the summer’s programmatic highlights – Yom Sport, the 4th of July, the aidah musicals, out-of-camp trips, and more – pull us away from the comfort and familiarity of the daily schedule.

Walking around camp this week, with near perfect weather day after day, has reminded me of all the different joys of camp.  Garinim girls on the ropes course; first island swim of the summer; Frisbees launched and caught; game after game after game of roofball; new spins on dodgeball (each time has a superpower!) and capture the flag.  I had the pleasure of serving as a referee for two games of Bogrim’s mixed-gender basketball league and watching a back-and-forth match decided by one point in overtime between the tzahov (yellow) and lavan (white) teams in the Machon/Nivonim league.  Earlier this morning I heard about a twist on hide-and-go-seek that some of the Garinim boys play nearly every night before bedtime.  On the phone earlier today, a colleague asked me why it sounded like there was classical music in the background; there was, thanks to our amazing music staff working with dozens of talented campers.  Radio shows and challah boards made in nagarut (woodworking) and paintings and dances.  Camp fun is everywhere!

On Wednesday we had our first Yom Meyuchad – literally “special day” – when our specialty program staff like waterfront, sports, and the arts have a day off.  In addition to a late wake-up and special picnic lunch and dinner, the day was filled with great examples of classic camp programming.  Machon spent the day talking about and enacting various experiments, both social and physical.  Google “rubber bands and watermelon” and make one of the many available recipes for producing ice cream in a plastic bag to get a flavor of some of the highlights of the day.  Solelim embarked on “Yom Time Travel,” designing their own time machines and then utilizing them to visit different stages in our lives:  dressing up as babies, competing in a “baby relay” with a swaddling contest, baby food test, and crawling competition; reflecting on what it means to be twelve-year-olds, complete with a special Bat Mitzvah party with Rosh Aidah Shira Forester, whose Bat Mitzvah anniversary is this week; and then becoming senior citizens and enjoying an evening of bingo games.  Bogrim participated in “Yom Sixth Sense” which blissfully had nothing to do with the M. Night Shyamalan movie of the same name.  In the morning the kids did activities around each of the five senses, including a blind taste test, and in the afternoon they identified and explored a thing that each of the chanichim (campers) excels at – their own sixth sense. 

As momentum continues to build at camp we turn our attention to the summer before us – awaiting all of our Ruach Ramah B, Kochavim A, Kochavim B, Halutzim, and Taste of Tikvah B campers – either nearly halfway through camp (Garinim) or almost a quarter of a way into our summer at Ramah.  We are moving, growing, flourishing, enveloped by this loving community and thriving within it.  We are experimenting like Machon, embracing who we are like Solelim, and finding our own special expertise like Bogrim.  We are also modeling something that occurs in this week’s Torah reading, Beha’alot’cha.  As we move through the Torah every week we can lose sight of something in the narrative:  it has been almost two entire books of the Torah since b’nai yisrael (the Israelites) have moved anywhere.  They’ve been standing at the foot of Mount Sinai since the middle of sefer sh’mot (Exodus) and only this week, in the 10th chapter of sefer bemidbar (Numbers) do they begin moving again on their journey.  Like our campers and staff, they have a pretty clear sense of where they’d like to get to but no idea about exactly they will make it to their final destination.  The coming weeks’ Torah readings are filled with growing pains as this nascent nation of slaves goes through growing pains and thirty-eight-or-so of the forty years between leaving Egypt and entering the promised land transpire in seven weeks of Torah readings. 

Seven shabbatot from today through the end of the fourth book of the Torah when the Israelites are encamped on the bank of the Jordan River to hear Moses’ farewell addresses; seven shabbatot until the end of camp when we prepare for our own far more modest series of transitions home.  In the interim these first experiences and memories will serve as the basis for the productive journeys of the next weeks.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jacob

Questions to ask your camper this week:

Garinim:  How did the “Settlers of Ramah” (spinoff of Settlers of Catan) game work?  What was the resource your team had and what was your favorite relay race of the day?

Solelim:  Which did you enjoy more, “Bowling with the Champs” or “4-way Basketball”?  Why?

Shoafim: How does “Google Translate Karaoke” work?  What was your favorite song?

Bogrim:  Which blind taste test food did you have to guess during Yom Sixth Sense?

Machon:  What social experiment did you develop and implement on Yom Meyuchad?

Tikvah:  What was your favorite part of the camping trip?

Nivonim: What meal did you make and present during “Ya’ar [Woods] Master Chef?”

Atzmayim:  How was your first “day off?”  What did you do?