It Looks the Same

by Sara Beth Berman, Nadiv Educator at Camp Coleman

This post originally appeared on My Jewish Learning’s blog, “The Canteen,” which features various Jewish Camp professionals.

The Davis Academy 8th Grade Gibush Retreat
(A Summer at Camp)

It looks the same.
(It looks different.)

Two quick days.
(Two 4-week sessions.)
Middle of the school week.
(Middle of another delicious Georgia summer.)

60+ 8th graders.
(450 3rd-12th graders.)
A handful of faculty.
(Multitudes of young (and not-so-young) trained counselors and specialists.)
5 half-cabins.
(Nearly 40 cabins, filled to capacity.)
An abundance of Hershey’s Chocolate bars.
(An abundance of Hershey’s Chocolate bars.)

There are a number of ways to compare the Davis Academy 8th Grade Gibush / Teambuilding Retreat to a whole summer at URJ Camp Coleman. School had just started, and camp had just ended.  Over the course of the time we spent at Coleman, the 8th graders were present.  There.  Ready to do everything.  Willing participants in the teambuilding enterprise.

As their Nadiv Educator, I’d barely transitioned from camp to school when we brought the 8th grade class.  I would look out into the crowd at dinner and do a double-take.  “Where is Bonim?  Why aren’t the Chalutzim meltzing?” Then, I’d shake my head and realize that it wasn’t camp anymore.  It was…camp.  Davis Gibush camp.  At Coleman.

Our 8th graders have taken the first steps on their journey to Israel.  In a few short months, they will graduate.  But first, to break the barriers.  Everybody has their own smaller group of friends in the grade.  How does 8th grade become a cohesive unit?  We started with Leaderskits, imagining as if they were Moses, looking out into Israel, not quite there yet.  We continued with setting goals for learning for the year, low ropes, Israeli Dance and swimming.  After dinner, the kids explored Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” through silent contemplative prayer for nearly an hour, coming back together for s’mores and a poetic review of the Davis menschlichkeit values.  The next morning, a walking (and running) Tefillah energized them for a morning of Art, campfire cooking and Gaga, before lunch and returning to Davis. One student’s mom relayed this story:  After hearing a description of the activities, she said that the student had come back from an icebreaker retreat.  “No, mom,”  he demanded.  “It was teambuilding.”

All of the magic of camp.
(All of the magic of day school.  At camp.)
Two short days.
(A summer of memories.)
Lifechanging.
(Lifechanging.)

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