Off to Summer Camp
I have had today’s date highlighted in my calendar for a long time. I have been looking forward to today for months. Today, I am getting on a plane for the first time since I came home from an Association of Reform Jewish Educator’s Conference back in January 2020. Today, I am flying to Philadelphia, to serve on faculty at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Six Points Creative Arts Academy – if you would like, you can learn more about them on their website https://6pointscreativearts.org. When I land (which will likely be happening about at the time this email hits your inbox), I will meet many excited young Jewish campers and counselors, all of whom have also, likely, not spent much time away from home in the past year and a half.
As many of us are celebrating a return to physical gathering, we are also celebrating a return to our physical Jewish communities. For many of us, our summer camp is that place where we feel our strongest sense of belonging as individuals and as Jews. Camp is a way for us to come together to learn, to play and to pass down some of our most treasured history and culture in an immersive and supportive environment. Many of our ECRS students know intimately the magic of Jewish summer camp.
As I travel to summer camp today, I am full of gratitude. I am so grateful for today. I am so grateful that our children that are getting to return to Jewish summer camps this summer. I am grateful that I can play a role in helping the next generation of Jews find love in their long and beautiful history and culture.
Recently, one of our local colleague’s “A Blessing for Going Off to Summer Camp” was published on ReformJudaism.org. In the beautiful words of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer and on behalf of all our ECRS students who are off to camp this summer:
May it be Your will, Lord our God, that you depart on your way to camp in peace and may your steps be guided in the way of peace. May you find learning and growth along the way, may you make new friends, renew old friendships, and learn more about yourself. May the mosquitoes be guided away from you, and may the raindrops not fall into your cabin or tent. May the food be delicious and the pool the right temperature, and may you seek out new experiences and try new things. May you return home in one piece with all your belongings, and may you ever yearn to return to camp. And let us say: Amen.
Mandy Herlich, RJE
Director of ECRS