From Lisa, our Camp Director…
November is the month when my thoughts often turn to the idea of gratitude. Gratitude for warm fall days with leaves changing color but also because routines seem more settled. We are past the obligations of the High Holidays, most of our campers have mastered their school schedules, many of our 2022 CITs have submitted their first bunch of college applications and our staff have successfully moved into college dorms or are engaged in this year’s academic or work pursuits. The value of gratitude or hakarat hatov in Hebrew is something we often focus on at camp. At camp, it is often easy to find reasons to be grateful. We are thankful for our camp friends and counselors who create fun and magical camp memories. We are grateful for the opportunity for long hours of play, for being able to splash in the pool and lake, and for singing and dancing on Shabbat. As summer slips into the past and next summer still feels far away, it is important to hold onto the memories and the feelings of gratitude that come with them.
November is also about family as many of us start thinking about our Thanksgiving gatherings later this month. Our family has a Thanksgiving tradition where we go around the table and each shares thoughts of gratitude. Reflecting on the connection between gratitude at camp and expressing thankfulness at Thanksgiving, remind me of the importance of our camp and family partnership. The values we focus on at camp are introduced and reinforced at home. Parents make an intentional choice to send their child to the immersive Jewish experience which is Capital Camps. Every camper has their parent’s encouragement to leave home for a few weeks in the summer, to start a new, yet unknown adventure.
The most famous Jewish story of adventuring into the unknown is found in last week’s Parsha or Torah reading, Lech Lacha. In this Parsha, God says to Abraham, “Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house to a land I will show you.” We often think of this as if Abraham is leaving everything about his family in the past. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Z”L suggested another interpretation. A close look at the chronology of events shows that Abraham’s father traveled with Abraham away from Abraham’s birthplace. His family accompanied Abraham for at least half of the journey. As Rabbi Sacks writes a deeper truth is “hidden in the guise of a simple genealogy at the end of the previous parsha – that Abraham was actually completing a journey his father began.”
Likewise, we often think that when campers jump out of their parent’s car on the first day of camp they are leaving their parents and family behind. In reality, the lesson learned at home comes with our campers in their luggage. And we are grateful for this. We are grateful for a strong partnership with our camp parents. We appreciate camp parents who reached out to provide feedback about their child’s summer experience, we are thankful to camp parents who are on the Board and who serve on our many committees including our Camp Committee and we are thrilled to have a new bunch of Camp Parent Ambassadors. Whether a parent was a camp kid themselves or chose to have their child start a family tradition of attending camp, we know that each child is completing a journey started and encouraged by a parent.
At this year’s Thanksgiving meal, I plan to share how grateful I am to be part of the Capital Camp’s team. I am thankful to my colleagues, with a special shout out to our newest member, Ilana Kornblatt, who is working tirelessly in the planning season to prepare for summer 2023. And I am grateful to be able to partner with parents to provide campers and staff with a summer full of personal growth and Jewish community building.