From The Director’s Desk: October 2017
Plan. Implement. Learn. Repeat.
I was surprised to see pumpkin spice lattes on the menu at Starbucks the other day. Seems a bit early for pumpkin spice, no? The preparations for winter holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, etc.) seem to begin earlier and earlier. It feels like some stores feature pumpkin spice even before summer begins to wind down. Then, candy canes and dreidles appear before Halloween candy. And why not? It’s a great way for businesses to drive sales. Or, maybe they just really want us to be ready.
Long before marketers sent the specialty products to the shelves months prior to the holidays, the rabbis were thinking about the notion of getting people ready. Preparations for Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – begin a month in advance during Elul. For an entire month, we signify the ways in which this year will be different by blowing the shofar and beginning our reflections, which culminate, of course, with Rosh Hashanah – the celebration of the birth of the world.
But, this is not only about Rosh Hashanah. Like Thanksgiving gives way to the December holidays, so, too, does Rosh Hashanah set the stage for a series of other Jewish holidays. Just as the gates of heaven have closed on Yom Kippur, we embark on Sukkot and head into the wilderness. This harvest holiday reminds us of the impermanence of our lives, and we live in temporary dwellings for seven or eight days. All this week, rain or shine, Jews around the world eat and sleep in Sukkot, as a reminder of our ancestors’ journey in the desert thousands of years ago.
Our Jewish holiday season culminates this Friday with the celebration of Simchat Torah – an end and a beginning. This time, we 1) formally conclude our reading of the Torah, and 2) immediately roll it back to begin again. As soon as we read the final blessing in Deuteronomy, we turn back to read the creation of the world in Genesis, in order to repeat the cycle.
Our camp season is no different. Even before our last campers depart, we have already begun planning for the next summer. Big ideas, interesting conversations, and lists on flipchart paper around the office are all indicators of how we learn from our current summer to enhance the next one. Even while camp is in session, we are in “our own Elul” – our own period of reflection.
As the last campers and staff members depart Camp in mid-August, we turn our full attention to the next summer, launching camper registration, conceiving of amazing new program ideas, and searching for the most talented individuals to join our staff team.
We have many ideas and exciting new initiatives already in the works for summer 2018. But we cannot do it alone. I invite you to join us on our journey this year. Share your feedback and/or recommendations with us, join us for one of our family camp programs, attend our reunions, or, most importantly, inform your friends about the magic of Capital Camps. You can help us launch and implement a successful 2018 summer season.
In the meantime, if pumpkin spice appears in September, then who knows? Maybe I’ll break out the sunscreen and shorts in February – just so I’m ready!
Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday),