by Bobby Harris, Camp Director
This past week we heard the oldest campers speak at services about their days as a Coleman camper coming to an end. It is an intense moment for them as they begin to understand the preciousness of time as we reach certain milestones and realize that this is a moment we will not experience again i.e. one Bar/Bat Mitzvah, one Chalutzim summer, etc. The camp environment lends itself to creating these memorable experiences because it exists in a unique place in both space and time. Throughout the year, most of our campers live in residential suburban neighborhoods far from the mountainous, rural countryside where we live at Coleman. In addition, campers spend the other 11 months living in the same neighborhood and attending the same school—Coleman therefore is their unique and special experience—the place that they can mark and internalize their growth from year to year.
This morning, at our final Shabbat service, Rabbi Bradd Boxman of Temple Kol Tikveh in Parkland, FL (spending his 29th year at a URJ camp) shared with the Coleman community that this week’s Torah portion included the 10 Commandments. In a ritual that was new for me, he asked each of us to remain standing as the 10 Commandments were chanted from the Torah to feel as if we were standing at Sinai and hearing them. He then continued with his 10 ideas for how we can choose to build upon the Coleman experience and bring a little of it home with us for the next 10 or 11 months.
With appreciation to Rabbi Boxman for sharing his “10 Ways to Feel Closer to Camp all year long”:
- Start counting the days until Coleman 2016. (for Chalutzim, NFTY Coleman in Israel. )
- Get involved in Temple youth group or junior youth group back home. Attend any Coleman reunions. If in NFTY, go to as many Regional conventions as you can.
- Talk about camp with your friends back home and convince them to give Coleman a try.
- Give your parents the biggest hug ever when you see them and thank them for sacrificing so much to be able to send you to camp.
- Write a thank you note to any organizations, such as synagogues or Federations, which helped your family send you to camp.
- Write a blog about your camp experience to put on your Temple website or send to Camp Coleman where they might also post on their website.
- Since you know it, lead the Motzi and Birkat Hamazon at home or at your Temple.
- Stay connected with your camp friends old and new.
- Keep in mind and practice Coleman’s 4 Core values every day and in everything you do. Kavod (respect), Chesed (kindness), Shalom (peace and wholeness), and Kehillah (community).
- Go on Coleman website, get the Apple Brown Betty recipe, and make it for your family on Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah.
It’s true, it is impossible to replicate the 24/7 immersive environment of Coleman, but Rabbi Boxman’s gives us a roadmap that can serve as a bridge to make it from summer 2015 to 2016. It has been a privilege to have your children as part of our Coleman community and I want to wish each of you a happy and healthy year ahead.