From the Director’s Desk – December 2020

The camp team would like to wish everyone a “Yes, And” Chanukah celebration.  I recently learned about the power of “Yes, And” during an improv class with Second City.  Like so many of our campers who find themselves learning remotely, I have been engaged in online learning; I have been a student in a Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership certificate program for the past year. In addition to traditional classroom learning there were elements of the program that tapped into creativity such as this improv class. I wasn’t sure how improv over zoom would work but, in true Capital Camps spirit, I challenged myself to try something new. 

Yes, And” is at the core improvisational comedy.  When one person says something, their partner accepts the reality of the statement and builds on it.  Rather than looking for why an idea won’t work, this technique requires participants to focus on possibilities. “Yes, And” aligns with camp’s values of proactive and creative problem solving.  This past year as we worked toward reopening at camp, we attacked this challenge with a “Yes, And” mindset.  Chanukah, a celebration of miracles and the festival of lights, also incorporates a “Yes, And” philosophy.  During the dark months of the year, especially when we find ourselves still needing to remain physically distant, the Chanukah lights can provide a little bit of positivity. 

Traditionally we are commanded three times to light candles; we light Shabbat candles, yes and, we light Havdalah candles, yes and, we light Chanukah candles.   We begin the first night of Chanukah lighting one candle and we add on another each night.  During improv, participants add one idea to another as the laughter builds.  In the same way, each night of Chanukah we add a candle, increasing the light and joy of our celebration. The flame shared from one candle to another doesn’t diminish the light from the first candle.  Rather the light grows. At camp, we use the analogy of how a flame grows as we build community; friendships, kindness and caring are among the things that grow the more they are shared. 

The Chanukah story itself can feel a little bit like an improv scene.  The Maccabees were a small group without power or weapons; “Yes, And” plenty of spirit and determination.  They were able to fight off a much stronger adversary and found a small amount of oil.  “Yes, And” this small amount of oil lasted not one but eight nights.

As we light the Chanukah candles and play dreidel this year, we hope that everyone is able to put a positive spin on their Chanukah celebration.  While our gatherings continue to be virtual, let’s look for opportunities to add moments of “Yes, And”.  We can gather in our homes; “Yes, And” reach out to friends and relatives.  We can wish each other Happy Chanukah by calling, texting, “Yes, And” by video.  We can retell the Chanukah story, “Yes, And” listen to a story read by Capital Camps’ camper, Molly H.  We can light the Chanukah candles with our family; “Yes, And”, we can sing, celebrate and light the candles as a Capital Camps community. 2020 continues to be a challenging year.  Chanukah is a celebration of an ancient miracle. “Yes, And” may it also kindle some modern day advances. We hope that the lights of Chanukah bring you and your loved ones some bright moments.  Austin, Melissa and I wish everyone a very bright and happy Chanukah.

– Lisa Handelman