What do our camp philosophy of “challenge by choice” and the Passover Seder have in common? As the Camp Team and summer leadership team shared their Passover family traditions, we realized there are a lot of parallels between what was happening in our homes and what we do at camp. Challenge by choice is the idea that we all participate, we are all part of a communal experience, yet exactly how we participate can differ depending on our needs and desires. Passover is reported to be the most celebrated Jewish holiday. So many of us choose to participate and at the same time we often add our own personal spin that makes our Seder different from all others.
This year, one family had a multi-Haggadah Seder using nine different Haggadot, ranging from the traditional Art Scroll to the unofficial Hogwart’s Haggadah. Some families read the Haggadah cover to cover, while others dressed in costume and acted out the Exodus story. There were a lot of different songs about frogs here, frogs there, frogs hopping everywhere and a health debate about whether the youngest child can require siblings to help out with the four questions. One family always sings “who knows one in Yiddish” while one always sings Chad Gadya during dessert. One family uses boiled potatoes to dip in the salt water instead of parsley and we all seemed to have a different family recipe for charoset. Collectively, we all celebrated the joyfulness of the holiday in our own unique ways.
At camp, we honor our individual differences while at the same time coming together to build communities based on Gemilut Hasadim, acts of loving kindness. This is also the time of year where we ask families to complete all their camper forms. The Health History is a searchable form that allows us to prepare for campers’ physical and social emotional needs. This form needs to be updated every year and includes new questions. Completing all the medical forms and utilizing our medication disruption company, Pack My Rx, helps keep our community safe. Together these forms help us get to know each camper as a unique individual.
Some of the forms help us build our bunk communities. We start forming both our first and second session bunks in early May so, if your camper has a bunkmate request, completing the Bunk Request form is the best way to let us know. The About Me and About My Camper forms are letters to your child’s counselor and can include information about friendships and favorite activities. Reviewing and signing the Camper Code of Conduct with your camper helps prepare them for our community expectations. And an updated photo lets us see how much campers have grown and helps our counselors and our camper care team get to know those they will be working with this summer. A checklist of all the forms can be found on your CampInTouch Dashboard.
At the Passover Seder, we are obligated to remember being freed from slavery in Egypt. Memory is at the core of many Jewish experiences. One family’s special Passover tradition is to add a cooked piece of carrot inside some matzah balls and if you get it, you share a Passover memory. We are looking forward to a summer full of amazing camp memories. We are looking forward to the individual and communal ways we will participate and challenge each other.
From our camp family to your family, wishing you all a Chag Pesach Semeach.