Camp staff 07.12.17

The Soundtrack to My Jewish Journey

The Soundtrack to My Jewish Journey 

by Jordan Goldberg, Counselor at Camp Chi

It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Camp Chi the place that it is. For some people, it’s the 600 wooded acres that are accompanied by the incredible grounds and facilities, such as the Cove or the High Ropes Course. For some people, it’s the chance to make and live with the closest friends in the world, and the everlasting bonds that are formed as a result. For others, it’s the opportunity to break out of one’s shell and be the person that they want to be. In my 11 years at Camp Chi, I’ve realized that all of these things make camp what it is. But for me, there’s one factor that binds it all together, and truly creates that Camp Chi Magic: the music.

Music is my thing. My lack of any astounding athletic ability means I’m not big into following sports, I don’t play video games because I usually get dizzy from the graphics (picture a stumbling, queasy boy stepping off the Teacups ride at Disney World), and I’ve never had enough patience for collecting stamps or other valuables. But, there is something about music that has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s music’s ability to influence my mood and emotions or the unending opportunity that music presents for creativity and discovery or even just the fact that I’m decent at keeping a beat. Whatever the reason, I love music.

Just like a lot of camps music plays a big role Camp Chi’s summer magic. If you ask anyone at Camp Chi, they’ll tell you that music is important here. We have an annual song of the summer, song sessions, an expansive radio station, a Jam Band, recording studio, and song leaders. Every meal starts with an upbeat version of Hamotzi, Shabbat Services have specific renditions of songs and prayers, and Havdalah always concludes with Shelter Us/Hashkiveinu. Campers and alumni can’t imagine a Shabbat song session without everyone singing All My Life’s A Circle or a meal that doesn’t end with a lively Birkat Hamazon. Without music, I wouldn’t have that spine-tingling moment when all of camp sings in unison “Hashkiveinu Adonai Eloheinu L’Shalom” to look forward to each week. A summer at Camp Chi is made up of a collection of these special moments. Without music, you don’t truly have these moments. And without these moments, you don’t truly have Camp Chi.

The music at camp isn’t anything new either. A lot of the music that’s played here has been floating around Camp Chi for generations; and I know because both of my parents were campers here. Even as people age and move into different stages of their lives, the music at camp remains timeless and consistent. The same songs that campers grew up listening to in the ‘70s are still being played at camp today. For so many different people, these songs represent their childhood at Camp Chi, a kind of soundtrack to the Camp Chi Journey. The music is cemented in as tradition here and binds our community together. Whether you were a camper in 1977 or your first summer was 2017, the same songs represent Camp Chi to so many people. We are one community, one camp, one people, and it’s our beliefs and traditions that hold us together. It’s the music of Camp Chi that keeps our kehilla continuous and clear.

When it could be so many things, it is hearing Oseh Shalom or The Hope make me smile and think about how lucky I am to call Camp Chi my home. All of the music here has a purpose. It’s what makes all the moments unique and what strengthens our sense of kehilla. The music at Camp Chi is my favorite music in the world because it’s the soundtrack to my #Jewishcamp journey.

What songs make up the magic of your camp?

Jordan Goldberg (pictured), is a counselor at JCC Camp Chi. and a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.