July 31st – Journeys Out of the Village

A rabbi had a son who used to wander off into the woods. One day, the rabbi decided to ask his son why he went wandering each day. The boy said to his father, “I go there to find God.” 

“Well,” the father said slowly, “That is a very good thing. But, my son, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” 

“Yes,” the boy answered, “But I am not.” 

-Hasidic Tale, and a story shared on page 37 of our camp Siddur 

To me, and to numerous others at camp, this story hits home in a special way. Camp is a special place where individuals can be themselves in a way they might not be able to anywhere else. So, why do we ever have campers leave camp? Surprisingly, it’s for the same reason. 

During the summer, each village has a different campout or trip that is specifically picked for the campers of that age group. For our campers in Benjamin and Reich, they start their campout time by taking a trip down to our lake in the afternoon. Once there, they will help set up tents, do some fun programs, and help as our outdoor adventure specialists prepare a delicious dinner cooked over the fire. In the morning they will pack up and have breakfast by the lake before “returning” to camp and their normal schedule. 

For Kaufmann village, they will get the chance to get on a bus early in the morning to head to Harpers Ferry, WV for a fun-filled day of hiking, rafting, and enjoying some time doing other activities away from camp. For Macks village, the time off camp extends to spending 2 nights at ACE adventure resort. Each day is filled with fun activities and a chance to bond with one another and their counselors by being away from camp. During 1st session, our LITs get to enjoy traveling around Israel for 3 weeks together. Earlier in the summer, our CITs took part in a multi-day service trip to Richmond, VA.

What makes these campouts special to the campers is that they are separated into their grade-level groups, rather than the entire village. By doing so, it gives campers a unique experience and a chance to bond with their peers in a special way. Something about being in a place, or space at camp, that you aren’t used to, but with the people you are used to, always leads to creating special memories. Despite the campers leaving camp or their typical living spaces for their trip, to them it still feels like just another day at camp. They are surrounded by their friends and counselors but they get to try new things that they wouldn’t be able to at camp or during a normal camp day. It creates something special for each group. 

Much like the boy from the story shared earlier, our campers bring their authentic camp selves to all the places they go, even if things are a little bit different than they are back in Waynesboro. During the year, I love hearing about families joining together in the special hand motions of Birkat Hamazon or camp friends expertly in sync during a Rikkud dance at a B’nai Mitzvah. Campers and staff alike end up bringing that camp magic with them no matter where they go, no matter what time of year. 

Austin Theis

Assistant Camp Director