“I came to Camp Ramah Darom to change lives and to mold and build the lives of Jewish children (I am sure I did that). But that wasn’t the only thing that was achieved: my life was changed.”
Have you ever created your own Tefillin? Have you climbed a rock climbing wall and swung on a rope over 40 feet up in the air? Have you blown glass and created glass beads using a torch over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit? Perhaps you have participated in archery or milked a goat? Or maybe you have celebrated Shabbat beginning and ending surrounded by over 700 other people with the same intent? I am sure you have done some of these things but not all… However, in one day at Camp Ramah Darom, you can do all of this and more while growing spiritually and emotionally as a Jew. Here at Camp Ramah Darom, there is a spirit of Judaism infused into every facet of life from before breakfast until late into the night. When we pray we do so with love and joy and spirituality. At Camp Ramah Darom we have written our own tunes for prayers that are far beyond your standard phoned-in spirituality… they capture the spirit of the liturgy in ways I have never seen before.
“In an age of iPhones, iPads and iPods we have become too attached to the “I” and not the “thou” but at camp one is forced to always be aware of the “thou.””
Part of the art of changing the lives of Jews is in the work of building community. The Jewish people have been practicing the art of community building for thousands of years. In doing so we make sure to be self-sustaining and self-reliant. Everything that we need should be housed in our communities. Ramah Darom is such a place. Our daughter said to me the other day that Ramah is like a town: the people who serve as our security are like the police officers, the clinic is the doctor’s office, the dining hall is the restaurant and the cabins are the houses. She was right and that is something that you need to be here to see. In an age of iPhones, iPads and iPods we have become too attached to the “I” and not the “thou” (thank you, Martin Buber, for that beautiful concept) but at camp one is forced to always be aware of the “thou.” Whether it is gathering at the amphitheater for the most moving Shabbat services in your lifetime or eating delicious meals that put most camps to shame our children and once again our staff find ways each day to be there for each other and thus create community. I must admit that the task of coming into a camp as a new person was daunting at best and more likely horrifying. But we were not only accepted… we were embraced in warmth. That is something that insular communities like camps often fail repeatedly… we were so grateful to find the complete reverse was the case here.
“Here at Camp Ramah Darom there is a spirit of Judaism infused into every facet of life from before breakfast until late into the night.”
“How great are Your work’s God?!?” These are some of the words found in the Siddur from the blessing said before the morning Shema. At Camp Ramah Darom our siddur is named for it and the tune is one of our signatures. Why? Because when you combine the changes that are made with the community that is formed…When you gather in such a scenic wonderland and when you have such an open and friendly group of people…And when you take such a vast array of activities and mold them in the image of Judaism you have no words other than proclaiming how awesome and wonderful all of God’s works are and all of them are on full display here in Clayton, GA at Camp Ramah Darom.
Thank you to Camp Ramah for changing my daughter’s life and for changing mine. I will never be the same and cannot wait to return next summer. I can only hope more and more will join us on this majestic journey.