Once a camper, always a camper!
It’s been many, many years since I was a camper at a Jewish sleep away camp but it’s in my blood. I loved camp. I loved the fact that everyone was Jewish which is a really big deal when you grow up in Charlotte. I loved singing Jewish songs and having services outside. I loved S’mores and bonfires. I loved my friends who returned every summer, arts and crafts, free time, cabin time, the Rec Hall and the dining room. I loved it all. Well, maybe not kickball or tennis but most everything else was fantastic.
A couple weeks ago I had the chance to relive those glorious summers at the TBE Religious School retreat at Camp Thunderbird. Rabbi Klass and I spent the weekend, with the help of some of our religious school teachers, madrichim and a few brave parents, and our 4th, 5th and 6th grade students. The theme of the weekend was “Have Courage – Be Kind” and we filled our time with activities and programs that encouraged our students to make new friends and to recognize when someone needs a buddy, a kind word, an invitation or an action that could brighten someone’s day or lift someone up.
Rabbi Klass and Jake Kalik brought us out into nature to experience Shabbat with all our senses in a beautiful lakeside setting. We had Havdalah under the stars and experienced our Judaism in a totally different way.
The best part of the retreat for me was spending so much time with our students. I was so proud of them. They were helpful and respectful to the staff at the camp. They engaged in deep conversations about friendship, kindness and what it takes to be an upstander. They waited patiently to take their turns zooming through the air on the zip line or climbing the Alpine Tower. They giggled into the late night hours and woke up ready to start the next day with giant smiles. They were a pleasure to be with and I am so grateful that I was with them.
I do have to confess that I am now at the age where sleeping in a bunk bed in a cabin full of 5th grade girls might not hold the thrill it did back in the day but I did it! And I lived to tell the tale! I can’t wait until next year to do it again.
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