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I went to Summer Camp, too!

Reflections on Serving as Faculty at URJ Crane Lake Camp

I had the privilege of serving as faculty for one week at URJ Crane Lake Camp this summer, where my son Ezra is, most happily, a camper.  Crane Lake Camp, which is located in the Berkshires, falls under the umbrella of the Union for Reform Judaism, and it is truly a living, breathing embodiment of what it means to live out Jewish values each and every day.  Camp is a teacher unlike any other, a place where Judaism is woven seamlessly into each and every day, creating a meaningful frame for every activity, from sports to art and crafts, from drama to the ropes course.  And the very best part is, the campers, our children, have the best time, returning summer after summer.
For me, returning to camp was a dream come true.  I grew up going to a Reform Jewish camp on the West Coast, and it was nothing short of transformative.  So much of what I experienced at camp—songs I sang, cheers I chanted, dances I mastered—I still remember today.  And more than that, I share those songs and cheers and dances with my children.  It’s a chain of tradition that I am so grateful to continue.   And needless to say, I was tremendously excited to go to Crane Lake, and to experience again so much of the magic I had experienced as a camper, but this time, through the eyes of a rabbi.
You might be wondering: “What does a rabbi do at summer camp?”  Well, what doesn’t a rabbi do?  I was privileged to serve on faculty with an incredible group of Jewish educators and clergy.  Together, we lead all of the Jewish programming for the week, which included teaching, running programs for every age group, tutoring children for their B’nai Mitzvah, and guiding campers preparing to lead Shabbat services.  In one week, I taught a course on Jewish feminism, I explored discrimination with rising 7th graders, I taught about generosity, about taking care of animals, about friendship, and I even participated in a flash mob!  It was a whirlwind of epic proportions, but such a wonderful window into the life of this very special place, Crane Lake Camp.
On the last day of my elective course, after having spent several hours with 8th, 9th and 10th graders, discussing the intersection between feminism and Judaism, I turned to my campers and said: “Having shared these discussions with you, and having had the honor to listen to each and every one of you, and having had the privilege to witness how respectful you have been of each other’s thoughts and opinions, all I can say is that I am so comforted, knowing that you are our next generation of thinkers, leaders, and change makers.”  These young men and women were curious, kind, empathetic and compassionate.  They were confident, they were brave, and they were willing to take risks.  They were proud of their tradition and they were proud to be Jewish.  And frankly, I couldn’t have been prouder of these standout campers.
My time at Crane Lake Camp was truly memorable and truly extraordinary.   And while I only had a week in the beautiful Berkshires, our campers are so lucky to have more time—time to grow and learn and have the summer of their lives.  If you are interested in learning more about Crane Lake Camp or any of the URJ summer camps, please reach out to me at [email protected].  I would be delighted to chat camp with you! 
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