This past weekend, our summer leadership team gathered  (virtually) for the first time to begin training for summer. Unit heads, song leaders, activity directors, camp care team, and full – time director team spent hours at virtual camp.  The joy was palpable. The excitement and enthusiasm were contagious. The energy and creativity were inspiring. All I can tell you is that if we come away this energized from a virtual weekend, your kids are in for a FANTASTIC summer!

As we count down the days to our time at camp, I hear from parents that camp is becoming real to you, too.  Requests for camper lists so that pre-camp connections can be made. Questions about the packing list. COVID protocol clarifications. Gratitude for working to ensure that campers will have a phenomenal summer.

Three weeks from now, I will spend my first Shabbat of the summer at camp with our director team and our  mishlachat  (Israeli staff delegation). This first Shabbat at camp is always incredibly special, as it marks the true beginning of the summer season. Shabbat at camp has a different vibe, as we take time from the ordinary to breathe in the peace that Shabbat brings. As parents, we have the honor of blessing our children each Shabbat with the Priestly Benediction. At camp, our counselors bless their campers with the same blessing, adapted for camp:

May God bless you and watch over you

May God’s face shine upon you and be very good to  you

May God be with you always, and grant you, me, the whole camp, and the whole world, with the blessing of peace.

One of the beautiful things about Judaism is  the constant opportunity  to find blessings in daily life and to create blessings in moments that call for them. As we count down the days to welcoming our campers to camp, I invite you to offer your own blessings to your children. Use your own words, the words above, or the  excerpts from a blessing for campers written by Rabbi Phyllis Sommer :

May you find learning and growth of all kinds.
May you gain independence and feel comfort in your Jewish identity.
May the mosquitoes be guided away from you, and may the raindrops not fall into your tent (too much).
May the food be delicious and the pool the right temperature.
May you seek out new experiences and try new things (vegetables would be nice but I’m doubtful) …
May your arrows fly straight, your fishing line never get tangled, and your tetherball not whack you in the nose.
May you not fall off the top bunk …
May you not lose your hat and water bottle in the first week …
May you create a life-long friendship (at least one, if not many).
May you renew old friendships, since they are the most precious …
May you learn more and more about yourself and your spirit and being.
May you return home in one piece with all your belongings,
and may you ever yearn to return to the land of summer camp.

I cannot wait to welcome your children home to camp in a few short weeks.  This summer in Bruceville !

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Erin