By Laura Seymour
It’s almost time for camp and I’m more excited than the campers! My first summer of camp was the year I was 3 years old; I’ve missed two summers since then. I will not tell you how many years of camp I’ve been to, but as I say each year at our Orientation Night, “I believe that camp can be the most significant experience in a child’s life, and today, it is more important than ever!” Camp provides a connection to a community unlike any other experience. But just because I have numerous years of camping behind me, including 32 years at Camp Chai, don’t only listen to me.
Daniel Gordis in “Becoming a Jewish Parent” says:
“Many observers of American Jewish educational institutions believe that today’s Jewish summer camps are by far the most effective ones we’ve built. After all, summer camps (especially overnight camps) offer immersion with almost no effort. They provide role models with whom our kids come to identify, whom they respect. Camps are the best place to make being Jewish into real fun. They’re the place that being Jewish doesn’t mean being different because they’re communities that are Jewish to their cores. They’re the places where our kids develop friendships that will last a lifetime, where those initial romances are likely to blossom.”
There is another wonderful book called “The Jew in the Lotus” which chronicles the discussions a cadre of Jewish leaders had with the Dalai Lama, who wanted to explore ways for his people to survive the diaspora. Who would be better to ask first than a group of Jews? Blu Greenberg, author and mother, said (among other things during her time) that Jewish camping has been a great method for passing on the tradition. Camp provides the essentials for Jewish continuity: a sense of community and immersion in the rituals and traditions. Our children need to live their Judaism and what better way than to do it while having fun?
So … I’m off my soapbox and off to camp!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
By Laura Seymour