10+ Things I Really Hate about URJ Camp

Now in my third day as faculty member at the URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA (and in my 18th year on faculty), I have been here long enough to clearly articulate all the things I hate about this place. And there are many!

  • Waiting in line for 3-5 minutes for a meal that someone else shops for, prepares, and cleans up
  • Sore feet from walking the miles of gorgeous trails in the bright sun under the clear blue sky
  • Being tired from staying up late with other faculty – rabbinic, education, art, medical – talking, laughing, problem solving, and sharing best practices.
  • Having to come up with a new story each day for services because the kids love the stories.
  • Needing to talk 24/7 about spirituality and God with staff and campers who want to think about, wrestle with and figure out the what, when, where and how of God. It’s not like that’s why I wanted to become a rabbi. (Oh right, it was!)
  • Putting on sunscreen to protect me from the sun, which shines constantly all day so we can enjoy outdoor activities (I’m kind of uptight about all that slimy, messy, white stuff).
  • Needing to remember the Jewish value of the day, because the staff integrates it into every moment of camp (Really? As if Judaism matters!?!)
  • Getting “hug bombed” (unexpectedly engulfed in the hugs) by my temple kids and other campers, even if I’m feeling cranky
  • Realizing that while I grow older, the campers in the eidah (unit) and the counselors all are the same age year after year
  • Having to dig through the huge bowl of freshly cut pineapple, cantaloupe  honeydew melon, watermelon, and grapes to find a fresh strawberry – I think those sneaky campers pick them out!
  • Not being able to enjoy the limitless tater tots at breakfast or breadsticks on pasta night because my stupid nutritionist said my metabolism can’t take it anymore
  • Being dragged into a circle of hugging singing people on Shabbat during the amazingly melodious shira (song session)
  • Dealing with happy, loving people all the time

A lot of people kvell about (praise) their camp experiences. But that’s so easy to do; it doesn’t count.

But finding enough things to kvetch about, now that takes real talent!

Originally published at Or Am I?

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Rabbi Paul Kipnes

About Rabbi Paul Kipnes

Rabbi Paul Kipnes the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. He serves as rabbinic dean at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA, and as vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Kipnes and his wife Michelle November co-wrote Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness (Jewish Lights). He also co-edited a national CCAR Journal issue on New Visions for Jewish Community. Under his leadership, Congregation Or Ami has won national awards for social justice programming, for innovative worship programming, for outreach to interfaith families, and for engaging family education, and for best overall use of technology in a synagogue. Or Ami also wins the hearts of its families for its Henaynu caring community, which reaches out during times of need. He serves on the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education clinical faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. His writings can be viewed on his blog, Or Am I? He tweets @RabbiKip.

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