On Thursday, I spent part of the morning assessing the physical accessibility of our entire campus with my colleague, Anthony Franklin, the General Manager of our facility. With support from the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Ramah Darom has been working on a plan to enable individuals with mobility challenges to navigate our campus more easily. To my delight, it did not end up being the most efficient tour of Camp because so many kids were eager to share with us the fun things they were doing. We gained insights into the hammock culture that exists around the cabins during free-play time.
“Uncle Anthony” gave an impromptu lesson on applying bug spray. We were asked by two kids in Shoafim (8th grade) to inspect the cleanliness of their bunk because they had worked very hard during Nikayon (Clean-Up Time) to refold all of their clothing neatly. “Now, it is so good,” they said, “It looks like we live in a Nike store!” And then, a Camper in Niztanim (4th grade) ran up to me on her way into the art studios. “Geoff, Geoff,” she said, “Today I paddled a canoe for the first time ever!!!” I asked if she had said the Shehchiyanu blessing. She smiled and her eyes lit up. “No. But can I say it now?” She said the bracha (prayer) – with a bit of guidance to remember it – celebrating and sanctifying her moment of being brave and trying something new. With joy and pride, Anthony and I responded, “Amen!” and gave her big high-fives.
The Camp experience is filled with campers trying new things, learning new skills, encountering new experiences and building new relationships. There is a lot of intentionality at Ramah Darom with respect to balancing our safe, nurturing environment with ample challenges for kids to overcome. This type of “good stress” offers opportunities to stretch and grow.
For our “Taste of Ramah” campers, it is all about the new. They swim in the lake and jump on the blob for the first time. They roast marshmallows and catch lightning bugs for the first time. But for these “Ramah Rookies”, their big challenge is being away from home for the first time. I am so proud of them all, everything they have learned and all that they have accomplished. I was in their bunk earlier this week and one of them showed me the postcard she had written. She wanted to show me because she had painstakingly written her note with every letter in a different color – in rainbow order. However, it was the text of her note which was striking to me – not the artistic presentation. Her concise message summed it all up perfectly: “I miss you Mom and Dad. But not all that much.”
After a whole week of activity, it is very meaningful to reflect back and consider everything our kids have accomplished. It has indeed been quite an “ACTIVE” week – which is the theme of Season B, Ep. 2 of the RD original series, “Shavua Tov.” Enjoy the video!