Over the past few months, I’ve been studying mussara Jewish virtues-based approach to ethics and character development, with camp professionals from a variety of Jewish camps. This week, we studied areyvut, interconnectedness. In sharing with each other all the ways in which we felt interconnected in our lives, I found so many layers of connectivity. Camp is the farthest reaching and the first to come to mind, but connections span through my children’s school, their activities, my hobbies, our family, friends, and so much more. The interconnectedness of our lives is truly amazing, and I have since been thinking a lot about how this interconnectedness grows and is strengthened at camp. 

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh L’Zeh (Shavuot 39a) is often translated as “All of Israel is responsible for one another.” Through our peoplehood, there is a tie to the Jewish community that requires us to not only be aware of each other, but to actively be in relationship with one another through our responsibility to each other. We are, through this responsibility of peoplehood, indelibly interconnected. Camp is the purest model of interconnectedness and highlights our responsibility to each other. Together in our camp bubble, we care for one another, offer support, laugh together, cry on each other’s shoulders, experience new things, and embrace each other for who we really are.  

With the prevalence of the virtual space in our lives today, many of us feel even more interconnected. They have Zoom dates with friends across the world, celebrate Shabbat together and with family in all geographic regions, and participate in rituals and simchas (joyous occasions) all online. Yet, there are also those for whom the predominance of the virtual space creates even more distances us as we long for in-person connection. They are Zoomed out, do not find meaning in gathering online, and withdraw as they wait for in-person gatherings to safely resume. For so many of us, knowing that we can be together this summer at camp is a light at the end of the tunnel. It offers the hope of connection to people and the disconnecting from technology. For both returning and new campers, the excitement for camp is real and grows by the minute. 

Our camp team has felt the absence of our year-round events this year. We miss being able to come together for our Fall and Spring camps for elementary and middle school campers, our Family Camps, and so many other meaningful retreats throughout the year. New families are feeling this absence as well, as they often joined to have their own taste of camp during the year. We are excited to announce that we have added more dates for in-person Camp Tours! While not quite the same as spending a weekend together experiencing camp, we are delighted to offer one-on-one (one family per full-time camp staff member) tours and paint the picture of camp for you. Each family is assigned a time for their tour and a full-time staff member to guide them. Everyone must wear a mask, and we remain socially distanced throughout the roughly hour-long, mostly outdoor tour of our facility. We welcome anyone who is interested in seeing Camp prior to the summer (or prior to registering!) to take a tour on January 31, 2021 or March 21, 2021. Sign up at this link or contact McKenzie Sigle, Assistant Camp Director, at msigle@urj.org. 

This summer in Bruceville!