Friday, July 31, 2015

They're Back, your campers I mean.

Kallah Gimmel 2015
They’re back. It’s been three weeks and while your world may have kept its normal rhythms and pace, their’s has turned upside down. They’ve made new friends, connected to Judaism in exciting ways, and most astonishingly they have grown SO MUCH. 

I remember when my daughter came home from camp the first time. She was really quiet when she was younger and I asked her “how was camp?”

“Good,” she said.

Not satisfied, I pushed on. “Did you make new friends?”

“A few,” she said.

Keif, Yedidut and Flat Stanley
“What did you learn?” I asked and that’s when it started. Two hours later and she wouldn’t stop telling me. First she told me about limud, then about suss (horseback riding), then rekuday am (dancing), and then she told me how incredible her counselors were and how now she knew she wanted to come back again so that she could be a counselor someday. What I’m saying here is ask your chanichim (campers) questions that make them give you the big answers. Of course they made friends, yes they had fun; but what they really want to tell you is HOW everything happened. Open ended questions give your sons and daughters the opportunity to lead you through their camp experience and paint you a picture of the entire exciting ordeal. Your sons and daughters have grown so much, coax them a little bit with questions that require more than one word answers.

If they’re still giving you one word answers try asking a few of these questions. Here’s some easy ones.
-Tell me about your bunkmate
-Tell me two funny stories that happened in your unit
-What were different about services at camp?
Leading T'filot

Here’s a couple harder ones
-What surprised you at camp?
-What did you learn about Middot, Jewish values in Kallah gimmel.
-I saw pictures of puppets, tell me about the puppets

And of course, you can always ask them to “tell me more about that.”


Back to my daughter. She did go back to camp. She became a councilor and was on staff at OSRUI for 6 summers. She’s back at camp with me this weekend and now her former campers are madrichim (counselors) helping new campers grow and fall in love with our many Jewish summer camp traditions. I have bonded so much with my daughter over the years through our conversations (yes, open ended questions still help) about summer camp. This tradition between the two of us is sacred for me and I hope it carries the same meaning for you and your family. L’dod va’dor. We can’t wait to see you next year; OSRUI 2016.

Contributors:  Lital Ehrlich and Cole Leiter