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From Generation to Generation: Learning Life Lessons at Camp, OSRUI

06/26/2018 03:01:55 PM

Jun26

Dr. Katherine Schwartz and Rabbi Ari Margolis

Dreaming of possibilities, testing hypotheses, picking ourselves up through adversity, pushing ourselves to grow, making connections, learning Torah, having fun.  

These are experiences we want our young people to acquire.  And what a great environment camp is to learn them! The chanichim (campers) are together with each other 24 hours a day.  They look to their madrichim (counselors) to learn those lessons. But for this session of Kibbutz HaTzofim, they also looked to our Jewish family in Genesis: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, Jacob, Joseph and Joseph’s brothers. Did Abraham accept God’s decision about Soddom and Gemora, that the town should be destroyed even when there are innocent people in it?  No! The chanichim learned that they have the same power as Abraham when, in an exciting game of “So You Think You Can Camp” (based on the popular game show Shark Tank), they were able to dream of ways to improve camp and present these ideas to the directors of camp, Solly and Susan, and their Rosh Eidah (unit head) Raya (and Batman, as well). As one camper remarked, “We shot for the sky and went too far and hit the moon.” Their voices were heard, and some of their ideas are being implemented before their eyes this week.

They participated in a building challenge to recreate the tower of Babel, learning how we need to work together in a community.  They witnessed the struggle of Rachel and Leah who had to share Isaac and explored ways to support each other rather by completing ropes course activities. Through a series of drama games, they delved into what it means to develop empathy, even for those who have wronged you.  They applied those lessons to Joseph’s experience of being thrown into a pit and later working to reconcile with his brothers. Through the camp experience and these incredible madrichim who have helped bring these values into all parts of the camping experience, our kids did not just learn these values, they have LIVED our Torah.

 So, what do your kids learn at camp?  They learn how to work together, to exercise their own power and develop empathy.  But they also learn that these are the values of our past generations, going all the way back to the time of our Torah, all the while having a great time.  The beauty of OSRUI is that they can’t tell the difference between when we are gaining life lessons, when we are studying Torah and when we are having fun. To them, it’s all just camp and it’s a part of what they become while at their home away from home.

Sun, March 24 2019 17 Adar II 5779