Reflecting on a Summer Like No Other

Wally Levitt8.17.21
I’ve just returned to Atlanta after spending an amazing summer at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton. As I write, I’m catching up on local news – most of which is focused, sadly, on Covid’s impact on the new school year. Every local newscast is showing unhappy kids being sent home for virtual school after positive Covid cases were discovered in their classroom.

For those of us who were safely nestled at our home-away-from-home in 30525 since early June, it’s a jarring juxtaposition.

For two months, Ramah Darom operated as both a literal and psychological bubble. Our entire focus was our small, hyper-local Camp community of several hundred campers and staff. The issues of the day were not highway traffic or political scandals; at Camp, the only traffic jam we worried about was the one created when 500 campers had to move from the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) to the Beit Am (covered basketball court) for the Zimriyah (song festival). At Camp, the biggest scandal we faced was the lack of marshmallows on the Mississippi Mud Pies one Shabbat dinner (for the record, our marshmallow delivery never arrived that week – and yes, we are very sorry!).

While the rest of the world was dealing with the spread of the Delta variant, we were dealing with an entirely different kind of spread: the spread of Joyful Judaism. All summer, everywhere you looked, there were smiles (fully visible once we became one pod and ditched the masks!). There was laughter. There was singing. There was tons and tons of dancing. There were happy kids everywhere – happy kids just being kids. Campers needed Camp more than ever this year, and thanks to the amazing work of our dedicated staff we delivered an exceptional summer experience.

As you may know, this was our 25th summer and it was so much fun celebrating during each session with a carnival, birthday cake and yes (for you Ramah Darom OGs) Big Boppers! If you weren’t able to join us on July 25th, you can watch the 40-minute livestream from Camp here. During this celebration we also shared the news of our exciting facility and programming expansion plans, boldly taking Ramah Darom into its next 25 years. You can find all those details at ramahdarom.org/kadima.

And speaking of looking ahead, we’re thrilled that our campus will again be bustling this fall and winter with a line-up of Ramah Darom retreats including LimmudFest, Book it to Shabbat with PJ Library, Jewish Women’s Getaway and Winter Break Family Camp, and many more in 2022. Ramah Darom’s breathtaking campus is a year-round gathering place for people of all ages, and we hope you’ll join us at one of our retreats in the coming months.

So, as we all get back to our fall routine (which, for the record, feels strange to this Northerner who believes fall only starts after Labor Day), I’m hoping to hold on to the feeling of unencumbered joy that permeated Camp. Because there is only one thing I really want to be infected with this coming year: a continuous feeling of Joyful Judaism like the one I experienced all summer long.

In all seriousness, please stay safe and healthy!