Alex Peskin10.16.20

We are a few months removed from what was a unique Kayitz BaBayit (summer at home) experience, and now is the time our chanichim (campers) start their daily countdown, even with hundreds of days left until Summer 2021. This highlights such an important part of our experience as human beings…having expectations we can count on. Unfortunately, this year we are all being heavily affected by the strong and opposite force of uncertainty.

Sometimes a little uncertainty can be useful, giving us a chance to acknowledge that some things in our world are out of our control. But the sustained amount of uncertainty in our lives right now – will school be in person or if it is, for how long, will everyone I know and love stay healthy and safe, when will I get to hang out with my friends again, to name only a few – creates a lot of discomfort for us all.

We may try to create whatever certainty we can in our lives by taking control of our surroundings, whether it is by organizing, cleaning or eating habits. We may find the opposite and see our children or even ourselves give in to any semblance of structure, playing lots of video games, sleeping more or acting out.

As the Yoetzim who are focused on making sure your children are feeling supported and cared for during the summer, we would also like to share some ideas for what you can try at home to address your child’s experience of uncertainty. We encourage you to focus on making room to be cared for by people we love, not trying to fix our feelings. Here are a few ideas to consider exploring during these times of uncertainty.

1. You’re not in it alone

More than anything else, the thing that brings everyone back to Camp year after year is the feeling that comes with being part of a strong kehillah (community).  In this time, the same can be so powerful, even if limited to those we share a roof or a FaceTime screen with. No challenge is as difficult if you are going through it with the people you love, and no challenge is as hard as having to go through something difficult alone. As much as you can, it can be so powerful to show interest by offering an ear, an hour, or a hug.  Sometimes we need to talk it out, do something fun, or just feel the presence of someone we love.

2. Your feelings are okay

It is common to try and convince ourselves or others to let go of the uncomfortable feelings we have. After all, if we really care about someone, the last thing we want is to see them struggle. That being said, no matter how convincing or rational we think our argument might be, feelings do not care to follow the same logic. Accepting our feelings can be powerful because they are going to show up whether we invite them or not. The more we can acknowledge that our feelings matter even if they are uncomfortable, the more we can start to make sense of them. All of the feelings that come with uncertainty – sadness, frustration, fear, nervousness, and especially helplessness – make a lot of sense. If we don’t try to “fix” these feelings, and instead try to acknowledge them, understand them, and validate them, the uncertainty may start to lose its power.

3. Create certainty where you can

With so many big things out of our hands, the best we can do right now is keep the small things a little more predictable. Work with your child to create a schedule where they eat meals at the same time each day (or know which day each week they will have their favorite meal…I bet your child can tell you what day of the week they serve grilled cheese and tomato soup at Camp), schedule time to talk to friends, and plan when they will clean their room, be physically active, and even goof off. The more we can know what to expect day to day, the more our body and mind can start to sink into some form of familiarity that feels like certainty.

Make some room to be excited about things. Play Camp music and do your own Havdallah rikud and start the countdown to Camp, even if it seems so far away and there are still a few unanswered questions. We are all planning for our chanichim to be back in Clayton, Georgia soon enough, feeling like a part of the Ramah Darom kehillah, spending time together, dancing, playing, and yes…eating grilled cheese soon enough.

One thing we are certain of is when we are all back in Camp together, there will be relief, there will be elation, and there will be a comfort that we cannot fully put into words, but cannot live without. Until then, let’s take the opportunity we have now to lean on each other and accept each other for however we are affected by this unexpected and uncertain time.

The Count Down Has Begun

Days Left Till Camp

Looking for more great advice? Check out The Yoetz Porch.

About the Author

Alex Peskin

Alex is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Marietta, Georgia.  He founded Marietta MFT where he helps couples and adult individuals who seek more meaningful connections in their lives.  Alex was a camper at Ramah Darom for six years, and he was on Tzevet (Staff) for five years.  He was a Yoetz during Kayitz BaBayit and looks forward to doing the same in person for many summers to come.

“So much of my life has been shaped by my summers as a camper and counselor.  I eagerly await the ability to share that experience with my family and watch my daughter grow up in the same loving community that I did.”