Lessons from Camp and the High Holidays
by Rachel Saks
The buses have rolled away, the bags are unpacked, the phone calls between your campers and their friends are sending your phone bill sky high, and the countdown until next summer has already begun. As the days and weeks tick by, the Jewish calendar asks us to take pause and evaluate ourselves and account for our deeds. With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur right around the corner we begin the process of looking at what we have done and how we have grown so we can do more and grow more. The High Holidays aren’t just about beating our chests in repentance; they are also about accepting responsibility for our individual and communal actions and learning from our past experiences.
With camp behind us and the holiday season ahead of us, now is the perfect time to talk with your kids about what they learned at camp and how they might grow and change in the months leading up to next summer. This sort of self-reflection isn’t easy for kids (or adults!) to do, but it can be very gratifying because it can make the whole family appreciate just how special camp is even more.
As you dip your apples in your honey (or your fresh fruit in silan and tehina, as in the recipe below) encourage conversation with your kids on what they learned over the summer. Self-reflection and growth is hard for all of us, but it is important to take the lessons from camp and talk about how they can be applied to challenges in the real world. How can the enjoyment of singing during Shabbat translate to finding meaning in Hebrew school? How can the tribulations of sleeping on a top bunk help you deal with a difficult math teacher? How can the creativity needed to design a cheer for color war help you discover what to write for your essay in English class? Discussing these types of situations with your kids can help them put their camp experience into context so that they can adapt, change, and grow into a better person.“Halvah” Fruit dip
½ cup tehina
½ cup silan (date honey)
¼ cup chopped pistachios
Large platter of fresh and dried fruits (strawberries, mango, apples, dried figs, dried apricots)
1. With a tablespoon, scoop alternating spoons of tehina and silan onto a large platter.
2. Using a fork, swirl the tehin and silan together. Sprinkle with pistachios.
3. Serve with fruit platter.
Rachel Saks has loved to cook ever since she was old enough to stand on a chair at the counter and wield a plastic knife. She has an M.S. in Education and is a Registered Dietitian. Rachel has taught cooking classes at JCC Manhattan and the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. She developed and ran Healthy Living, a Ramah program for 8-16 year olds that combines nutrition education, mindful eating, cooking instruction and physical activity. Rachel spent a total of 13 summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos (8 as a camper and 5 as a staff member) and met her husband there in 2000. She feels that a positive encounter with Jewish camp can be one of the most formative and important experiences in a child’s life.