What a blessing this summer has been. We grasped the opportunity to be together in this beautiful community after a two-year hiatus and held on tight. We were together. And it was Camp.

Each day at camp, we have many opportunities to give thanks. We appreciate moments with friends, sunsets over the lake, or an extra brownie on Shabbat. We celebrate flying down the zipline, trying something new, and a friend’s summer birthday. We bless our food before and after meals, we pray during services, say the shema together at the end of each day, and more. This week’s parsha (Torah portion) is the basis for birkat hamazon, the blessing we recite after meals:

וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ עַל־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָֽתַן־לָֽךְ
When you have eaten and are satisfied, give thanks to the LORD your G-d for the good land which G-d has given you (Deut. 8:10).

Taking moments out of our day to express our gratitude teaches us to appreciate what we have. David Helfand of Camp Ramah Galim teaches that the words that are the basis for giving thanks for the food that sustains our bodies can also be seen as a framework for the gratitude we feel for being at camp this summer.

V’achalta: And you have eaten. What a feast we have shared this summer. At camp, we load our plates with friendship, love, and community. We share meals with people that may start out as strangers and end our time at camp together as chosen family.

V’savata: And you are satisfied. We have had our fill of joyful moments. Our experiences at camp keep us satisfied until we are here together again ready to fill our plates again with more time together, more activities, more lounging in hammocks, more laughter, more late-night talks, and more of all that makes this community so special.

Uverachta: And you give thanks. We give thanks for being at camp in this safe, loving community. For many of us, camp was that much more special this summer. As we begin to think about our return to life outside of camp, we savor the blessings of community, friendship, trust, and love.

As we begin to close our summer, our “Shabbat of the year,” we give thanks.

To our camper families – thank you for trusting us with your most precious gifts, your children. Thank you for adhering to our COVID protocols and for giving them the opportunity to learn and grow at camp.

To our summer staff – thank you for dedicating your summer to camp. Thank you for giving of yourselves and committing to a summer like no other in the camp bubble. Thank you for your patience, your commitment, your excitement, your care, and your love. Thank you for giving of yourselves to our campers and to each other.

To our summer faculty – thank you for giving of yourselves and spending part of your summer at camp supporting our campers and staff. Your role this summer was deeply meaningful for our camp community.

To our camp committee – thank you for your continued support of GFC. We felt your encouragement and assistance throughout the summer.

To our full-time team – thank you for the intentionality you put into everything you do, your flexibility each time we revisited an idea or plan, the care you show for our camp community, and your dedication to the holy work we do.

We enter our final Shabbat at camp filled with gratitude. We have eaten, we are satisfied, and now, we give thanks.

Shabbat shalom.

-Rabbi Erin