it's never too early to dream of those
Yom Sport, a team sports day, Is
In full swing at Camp Tamakwa In
Algonquin Park, Canada.
Jewish summer camp experiences.
by Abbie Ginis
s the bus begins to slow, periences. These help connections to
the excitement is palpable. be made instantly.
Campers begin to stand up
Judaism at camp often differs from
and crane their necks for the first view that at home. For instance, Shabbat at
of the green grass surrounding their camp is a very different day as every-
camp. The roofs of the cabins start to one dresses up and gathers for servic-
come into view; slowly the place that is es. Depending on the camp, services
called home for two months is visible. can range from Reform to Modern
After counting down for more than 300 Orthodox. However, at each camp a
days, the day has finally come . . . sum- different spiritual experience can be
mer is here. It's time for camp.
had. For many teens, Shabbat at camp
With this month's cold and snow, is the time when they feel most Jew-
people are going to wonder why this ish. Whether it is the environment or
article is being written now. It's be- the people present, camp Shabbat is
cause December is a traditional time special.
for early camp registration. Although
"At Camp Tamakwa [in Ontario,
summer may seem ages away, camp Canada], I love to participate and
will be here very quickly for those re- listen to Friday night services," says
turning to a beloved camp or those be- Natalie Bloom, 15, of West Bloom-
ginning new experiences.
field. "I know the memories I've made
For newcomers to overnight Jewish on the slope [where services are held]
camps, this experience can be fright- are some of the best I've ever had as a
ening. But upon entering the camp camper. Friday night services are tru-
environment, know there are a few ly the best at camp! I love the atmo-
things campers have in common: their sphere and the people that surround
Jewish identity, a sense of indepen- me."
dence and anticipation of unique ex-
At Tamarack Camps in Ortonville,
aside from Shabbat, campers get to ex-
perience a day centered on Israel.
Rachel Gorosh, 15, of West Bloom-
field, says, "Israel Day has always
been one of my favorite days at camp.
Seeing the whole camp come together
with our love of Israel is just such a
great feeling. I know that especially
now that I don't go to a [Jewish] day
school, Israel Day will be even more
meaningful to me."
A study was conducted by the New
York-based Foundation for Jewish
Camp on the long-term effects of Jew-
ish camping. Camp is an essential part
of the formation of a child's Jewish
identity; later on it will help these kids
grow into adults who become active in
the Jewish community by donating to
charities and attending synagogue.
The study shows that adults who at-
tended camp as teenagers are 55 per-
cent more likely to be emotionally at-
tached to Israel, 45 percent more likely
to attend synagogue once a month and
30 percent more likely to donate to a
These statistics are significant and
show that Jewish camps can help build
better Jewish communities.
Camp also helps teens learn to be
more independent, which is a key to
maturity. What better way to learn how
to be independent than at camp? Two
months away from parents' watchful
eyes will encourage teens to be able
to take care of themselves. No one will
be there to do their laundry, change
the sheets, cook meals or even to pro-
tect them. Campers will have to learn
to make good decisions — or stand by
poor decisions. This will benefit them
later in life.
As for the lack of protection, par-
ents will not be there to fight their chil-
dren's battles. Kids must learn to stand
up for themselves, and to be outgoing.
At camp, many life-altering expe-
riences can be had. For example, the
friendships made can last a lifetime.
"You meet people from all over
with whom you develop sibling-like
relationships," says Rebecca Traison,
Cover Story on page TT4
teen2teen December 16.2010 B1