My Thoughts on Jewish Camping
As a seventeen year alumna of OSRUI, the first of the URJ Camps in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, I know from personal experience the impact of Jewish camping. I see how celebrating Shabbat, reciting prayers before and after meals, song session, Israel engagement, limmud or shiur (depending on what camp you attend), Israeli dancing and so much more impacts our next generations the most. I didn't need to read one of the latest reports stating that Jewish camps and Israel trips are the most impactful and long-lasting Jewish experiences our youth can have - I know it in my gut.
And so, I have spent 25 summers at URJ Camps across the country, as a camper, counselor, unit head and faculty member. I strive to teach in a creative, fun and educational way, bringing Judaism to our youth hour by hour, minute by minute, all day long.
While at camp in recent years, I find myself leading services or telling a brief story, teaching students how to lead prayer, teaching Hebrew, experience learning through cooking, teaching Israel, and so much more. I also find myself engaging in Torah informally all day long. I might help write a special Torah that combines science and Judaism (as is pictured to the left), or I might be found teaching the non-Jewish kitchen staff about Judaism and kashrut, what Jewish brisket is, and how to bake challah (using the Bravo now-famous recipe - as seen to the left). I embrace my role as a role model while at camp, and I proudly wear my camp swag, showing pride that I take the time to spend with these campers and staff members each and every summer.
I would be remiss not to add that being at camp is a way for me to rejuvenate my soul each and every summer. I am asked questions on the fly, engage in high level teaching with students and staff, and engage in worthy conversation and discussions with colleagues. I hope I will always be "young enough" to experience camp with the future generations!