By Margeaux Wolberg, S’ganit Rosh Eidah
For the past three and a half weeks, Shomrim/Etzim campers have enjoyed a taste of different Teen Camp sessions to look forward to in future summers, with four themed educational units that culminate in each child’s certification as a Shomrei Tarbut: Guardian of Jewish Culture. Check out what we’ve been working on!
In our first week, we emulated Maccabiah campers’ athletic prowess and sportsmanship to become Shomrei Chaverut: Guardians of Friendship. We focused on fair and fun Frisbee, a sport defined by “spirit of the game” – the responsibility of each player to make equitable calls without referees, maintaining integrity and honesty whether one wins or loses. (We had a close matchup with Tzofim, which was tied up until Tzofim’s winning point – we’ll get ‘em next time!) We worked on keeping our friendships strong and exemplifying leadership with figures like Nachshon, a Biblical character who showed bravery and grit when the Israelites needed it most.
During week two, we leaned into our Etzim roots (get it?) and Rishonim’s focus on contributing to our natural world as Shomrei Ha’Adamah: Guardians of the Earth. We learned about ba’al tashchit – the Jewish value to preserve the Earth’s resources – and discussed ecology and kindness to animals. We hiked to the star and began our month-long work on restoring the Avodah creek prayer site, overgrown after years without campers on Porter Creek Road. So far, we’ve weeded and created a path to the space from the main road, working together to leave our session’s mark on camp.
Building on our passion for environmentalism, we turned our learning into social action like our Hevrah campers in week three as Shomrei Tzedek: Guardians of Justice. We sent letters to our senators encouraging their action on climate change and other relevant issues and held a mock town hall where we learned about local government and how individuals and representatives make difficult choices about which issues to focus on. We even rocked out to some revolutionary tunes in a protest song-themed t’fillah (prayer service)!
To close out our time together, we spent our fourth week looking inside ourselves and developing personal understandings of God and faith as Shomrei Nefesh: Guardians of the Soul. Like Hagigah, we’re using visual and performing arts to examine the Divine: acting out the different characteristics of the Biblical God through drama, exploring songwriters’ images of God in a sing-along program, and going “Godshopping” with diverse Jewish conceptions of God that our campers will turn into watercolor paintings.
Here’s what some of our campers have to say about their favorite part of Shomrim/Etzim:
“I love our programs, because they have so much meaning. I connect to them a lot and they’re fun and special.” – Caitlin
“I loved intersession because we had so much time to hang out, and cabin time because it’s fun to do something together.” – Veronica
“I love the people, because everyone here’s so nice!” – Bren
“I love art because you have so many options to express your creativity and your feelings without having to say anything. It’s so calming.” – Lyla
“I’m happy I’m staying for four weeks for extra fun, and I love that the program topics are so interesting and we discuss things that we care about.” – Ollie
“I love that our group is small because we’re so tight-knit and we’ve become such close friends!” – Delilah
It’s been delightful to get to know our 28 Shomrim/Etzim campers and to spend this month learning and growing together. We hope after these four weeks, they’re inspired to make change in their own communities – and come back summer after summer for the real deal in Rishonim, Maccabiah, Hagigah, and Hevrah!