Drishat Shalom from Camp Ramah Darom
Wow – what a wonderful Kayitz (Summer) 2023! It is hard to believe that we are entering our last Shabbat and that in 48 hours our chanichim (campers) will return home full of memories and stories to share about experiences and moments that will shape their lives for years ahead.
At Camp Ramah Darom, our programming is intentional. Our leadership is made up of experiential educators who understand how to create fun activities that also teach values. Each week in our Drishat Shalom, we’ve been highlighting a middah (value). Each aidah (age division) has a middah to guide their summer programming. Our goal is for our chanichim to have a strong Jewish identity that includes not only knowledge of ritual practices but also an understanding of how to be a responsible and kind human being.
The end of our kayitz is also the culmination of our Gesher aidah’s last year as chanichim. This moment is met with much emotion. Whether nine formative summers at Camp or only a few, there is no doubt that their time at Ramah Darom has left an impact on these rising 11th graders. In Gesher, we impress upon them the middah of manhegut (leadership). They are the leaders that the younger campers look up to. This Shabbat, Gesher will lead us and reflect on their time as chanichim, telling the entire kehillah (community) to treasure the time they have at this magical place.
The primary reason I remain motivated and inspired to do the work I do is being part of this process and watching our chanichim and tzevet grow as manhegim (leaders). I know that Camp Ramah Darom alumni are the leaders of the Jewish community – some of our chanichim will become Jewish professionals, and many more will be leaders at their synagogues, day schools and other Jewish organizations because of the passion they feel for Judaism and Jewish community built from their experiences at Ramah Darom.
This week’s parsha, Va’etchanan, contains a verse we repeat as a kehillah before we begin our Torah readings: וְאַתֶּם֙ הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם חַיִּ֥ים כֻּלְּכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם “While you, who held fast to your G-d are all alive today.” Moshe is reminding the Israelites that those who had faith were sustained. When we read Torah, we are sustained and show a commitment to G-d, and by repeating these words, it reminds us of the importance of holding on to our traditions and rituals. We may be a small people, but we are sustained by the rituals that Jewish tradition provides.
Your children are our future leaders. I’m excited for you to hear how their summer impacted them, and I would love to hear stories of how they have deepened their connection to Judaism. I remain grateful for your trust in us and thank you for sharing your children with us for what has been a wonderful summer!
Please scroll down to read our Aidah Highlights.
Say thank you to our amazing summer staff by donating to Ramah Darom’s Staff Appreciation Fund!
Nitzanim (4th grade)
- Went to the out-of-Camp waterfall last Shabbat with conversation partners to experience the journey and reflection of the Israelites in the desert
- Had a great time cheering, playing sports, painting and dancing on Yom Sport and showing great sportsmanship and ruach and being very hydrated the whole time!
- Solved an intricate and important mystery on “Yom Clue”, going all across Camp to find clues and do detective-inspired activities while getting to know Camp and each other better, ending in popsicles, as all great mysteries do
Sollelim (5th grade)
- Had a fun and interesting Shacharit on the agam (lake)
- Planned a “Yom Clinic”, when chanichim (campers) took part in multiple clinics and learned and worked on new skills and ended the day with a trip to the waterfall
- Learned about Tisha B’Av and why the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed and took part in a program where they built their own structures
Halutzim (6th grade)
- Enjoyed lots of tzrif (bunk) competitions in Gaga and soccer
- Had a lot of kef (fun) during “Yom Airplane” when they prayed “on a plane, “traveled” to different countries, participated in World Cup and Eurovision competitions, and went on an edible tour of Israel
- Read stories and letters from people in the Holocaust and then created butterflies from our families as part of our Tisha B’Av activities
Kochavim (7th grade)
- Went tubing in the Chattahoochee River and played Mini Golf in Hellen, GA, on their yitziah (field trip)
- Studied the Talmudic story of Kamsa and Bar Kamsa on Tisha B’Av in Yahadut, as it pertains to the story of the destruction of the Second Temple and learned the lesson of what it means to be an upstanding citizen
- Had so much fun on Yom sport, and many campers played big roles for their teams in the lip sync and banner competitions
Shoafim (8th grade)
- Had a wonderful “Yom Europa” (Europe Day) when they made pasta at their Italy station and learned about European Jewry at stations across Camp
- Went head-to-head in a lively FIFA game against Nachshonim
- Played the game Ayala, a traditional highlight of the summer where campers must stealthily capture the glow stick hanging in Makom Kochavim without being caught by their counselor’s flashlight
Nachshonim (9th grade)
- Had a smashingly successful Dr. Seuss-themed Nachsho Live Show‑—the videos, skits and hosts were truly fantastic
- Dressed up in costumes, baked hamantaschen, went to a Purim carnival and learned about the connections between Purim and Tisha B’Av (yes, there are some) during “Yom Purim” to lift our spirits before Eicha
- Beat Shoafim 11-3 in an inter-aidah soccer game
Nivonim (10th grade)
- Enjoyed “Yom University” when they “graduated” from their NivoU activity and celebrated the completion of their work, selected an MVP from each activity and all chanichim were recognized for the time they dedicated to their activity over the machzor (session)
- Cheered on their fellow band members, who performed Monday night for the older aidot and showed excellent sportsmanship during Yom Sport
- Engaged in an activity about their beliefs about major questions of their Jewish identity, such as Shabbat and Torah, read various statements that corresponded to certain beliefs, created bracelets of beads with each belief and saw how diverse their beliefs were
Gesher (11th grade)
- Planned an amazing Enchanted Forest themed Grom (Gesher Prom) and got to dance the night away on Makom Gesher, took pictures in the Photo Booth and enjoyed refreshments
- Facilitated programs that they had written, made skits during tefillah based on the Ten Commandments, completed a relay race around Gesher Hill, and reflected on the past summers that started on lakeside and ended with stargazing on Gesher Hill
- Sat on the tennis courts surrounding the rest of Camp and took part in the reading Eicha
Camp might be over but the joyful Judaism, connection and fun continue at Ramah Darom. Check out our full lineup of year-round retreats.