Sat, April 19, 2014 /       View Shabbat / Jewish Calendar

JewishBoston.com

Three Lessons Learned from My Summer Camp Visits

by 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy / August 13, 2013

created at: 2013-08-13

By Eric Lightman
Director of URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy

As a camp director, visiting a different camp is like stepping into a parallel universe. The songs are a little different, the schedule is a little different, and perhaps chicken nuggets are paired with tater tots instead of French fries. Yet it is still Jewish camp as we know it: campers learning and growing in a supportive environment filled with fun, friends and family.

In preparation for next year’s new 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a Reform Jewish summer camp in the Boston area focusing on science and technology programming, I embarked on a journey most camp directors only dream of: seeing other camps in operation during the summer. What did I learn?

1. Same, same, but different.

A recent episode of NPR’s “This American Life” delved into the topic of summer camp in America. Although none of the featured stories focused on American Jewish summer camp specifically, any long-time camper would be able to relate to them. The cheering, the social dynamics, the camaraderie, the emotional bonds. Programs and activities that only campers could understand. At Eisner Camp and Crane Lake Camp, a moving and spirited “opening ceremony” sets the tone for the summer. At Camp JORI, a final banquet and slideshow gives campers deep memories to take home with them. Regardless of the different paths they took, all of the camps I visited achieved the same destination: creating a caring community and personally meaningful relationships.

2. Communities have character.

The aforementioned differences make each community unique. In a world of globalization and homogenizing culture, the camp “bubble” still exists, protecting traditions and maintaining unique elements of community (and personal) identity. At 6 Points Sports Academy, each meal ends with a call-and-response “zero – impact!” that reminds campers to take care of their environment. At Greene Family Camp, music that starts playing halfway through a meal signals that campers may begin to clean their tables and then participate in synchronized dances in the middle of the dining hall. These shared routines create character and connect campers and staff, building a sense of community, shared purpose, and shared values.

3. There’s a bond that unites us.

My farthest trip took me to visit eCamp, a computer and technology camp located at a boarding school in Israel about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The camp attracts children not only from Israel, but also Europe and the United States. What do campers from Beer Sheva, London and Chicago have in common? They share the common bond that has united the Jewish people for millennia: Shabbat. In a country where most everything screams “Jewish,” the most memorable part of their camp week is no different than it is in Massachusetts or Texas. The Shabbat experience not only unites us as a local camp community, it links us with the worldwide Jewish community.

I thank the many gracious camp directors that hosted me this summer and allowed me not only to observe their communities, but to be a part of them. The Jewish camping landscape is replete with summer options, and we at 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy are excited to offer yet another type of Jewish summer experience to children. If your child has an interest in science and technology, and you are looking for a two-week overnight experience, we would love to share the joy of Jewish camping with your family!

Eric Lightman is the director of the URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a new Jewish summer camp in the Boston area. For more information, visit urj6points.org or email scitech@urjcamps.org.

Tags for this Post

Camp Science overnight camp summer summer camp technology

Events

Kosher L'Pesach Jazz Brunch
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kosher L'Pesach Jazz Brunch

Ahavath Torah Congregation
Tremont Street Shul 20s&30s
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HametzFest

Tremont Street Shul 20s&30s
Women Working Together Job Search Strategy Group & Individual Career Coaching
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Women Working Together Job Search Strategy Group & Individual Career Coaching

Career Moves -- a division of JVS | Get Your Career Moving
Riverway Cafe
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Riverway Cafe

Riverway Project
Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture
Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Bissel Schlissel Challah Baking Workshop

Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture
PJ Library Topsy Turvy Pajama Shabbat
Friday, April 25, 2014

PJ Library Topsy Turvy Pajama Shabbat

Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston
Yavilah McCoy & Alexi Parashcos "Elements of Jewish Gospel"
Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yavilah McCoy & Alexi Parashcos "Elements of Jewish Gospel"

Temple Hillel B'nai Torah
Blue & White Night
Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blue & White Night

CJP - Combined Jewish Philanthropies
The Shoah in Israeli Culture, Memory, and Politics
Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Shoah in Israeli Culture, Memory, and Politics

Schusterman Center for Israel Studies