Update from Bobby

by Bobby Harris, Camp Director

Since our 2nd session campers arrived at camp 6 days ago, we have been having fun doing all of the traditional camp activities and enjoying the new 18 foot slide in Lake Shalom, the new Hockey pavilion, the new modern Jewish cooking room, and creating our own sketches for Friday Night Live –an exciting new addition to camp created by our video specialists Alex Novell and Lotem Eilon.   In addition to all of these wonderful activities and so many more, we have also been emphasizing the concepts of acceptance, understanding, and collaboration at Coleman in a multitude of ways.  We encourage our campers and staff to bring these values to life in their day to day lives here. Below are a few examples of how we do this:

shabbatFriday Night Camp Story:   

Throughout my time here as Director I have shared stories on Friday night with the camp community and always strive to connect with them about an issue on their minds as way to pull the entire camp community together.  As many of you know, at Coleman we encourage our campers and staff to connect with Israel and see this as  a major way of strengthening our Jewish identities.   With the summer filled consistently with reports of war and terror in Israel, I chose  to talk about Shalom—about peace.  I wanted to connect making peace in our bunks as a bridge to learning about how to make peace in our communities and beyond.  I shared the following words:

Steps To Peace in the Bunk
Step 1 – Choose peace.
Step 2- Try to understand the needs of the other campers in your bunk.
Step 3- Learn to compromise with those others.
Step 4- Work constantly to improve your understanding and your compromises.
Remember-Peace is Possible but it must be chosen.

After this brief introduction, I shared a story entitled “A Blind Man Captures a Bird” (Peace Tales, Margaret Read Macdonald)  that comes from Zimbabwe  It is about a newly married man who takes his blind brother-in-law on a hunting trip.  The man and his brother-in-law both set traps and on the following morning when they return to find if they have caught any birds the seeing man discovers that his trap has a plain bird while his blind brother-in-law’s trap has a bird that looks like it flew through a rainbow and is comprised with feathers of so many luminous colors.   Thinking he can get away with it without anyone knowing, the newly married man switches the birds because he wants to share the colorful feathers with his new wife. On their way home , the 2 men stop for lunch and the seeing hunter, who feels that his new brother-in-law is so wise, asks his blind brother—“Why do people fight with each other?”  After a long pause, the blind man answers, “because they have done to them what you just did to me.”   Feeling incredibly ashamed, the groom hands the colorful bird back to his blind brother-in-law who pets it and smiles.  After several minutes, the seeing man asks, “How do people who have fought learn to get along again?”  and the blind man answers, “because they do what you have just done for me.”  In an attempt to drive home the point that we can change the world, one bunk at a time.   I ended with the following words:

Steps to Peace
Step 1- Choose Peace

Step 2- Try to understand the needs of the other humans on this planet
Step 3- Learn to compromise with those others
Step 4- Work constantly to improve your understanding and your compromises.
Peace is possible, but we must choose it.

Saturday Morning Olim Fellow Service:

The Olim Fellows* led a Shabbat morning service – 2 counselors Missy Ross and Preston Sembler shared the following words:  “Respect, friendship, teamwork, responsibility, peace.  These are some of the rungs on the ladder of leadership.  All of these steps are necessary to find respect within ourselves and the world around us.”

Noam Katz Visit

Noam Katz leading campers in a song in concert

Noam Katz leading campers in a song in concert

On Sunday night the wonderful musician and songleader Noam Katz spent the day with our campers and performed a concert.  He brought songs from Jewish communities all over the world including Ethiopia, Uganda, Israel and our campers learned about many different cultures, customs, and languages within the worldwide Jewish community.  He also shared a wonderful song called “Buried Treasure” written by Frank Jones that was about meeting new friends from all over the world at summer camp.   The  “buried treasure” is found when campers and staff really take the time to get to know each other.  Living together in the bunk for 3 and a half weeks provides us with this opportunity.

“Defiance”- the Movie and Incredible Story of Tuvia Bielski

And, how fortunate we have been on Monday to welcome Ruth Bielski Ehrreich.  Ruth’s father Tuvia Bielski was the protagonist portrayed by Daniel Craig in the movie “Defiance”.  Defiance is the story of how Tuvia and his brothers protected and kept 1200 Jews alive in the forests of Belarus during the Holocaust.  Through learning the Bielski’s story and speaking directly with Ruth about the making of the Hollywood movie and learning what her parents  told her about their experiences,  our campers and staff learned how we can accomplish great results as a community when we all work together.

*The Olim Fellowship is an 18 month professional development program for URJ  counselors from 5 camps.  Counselors make a 2 year commitment to work at camp and attend 3 seminars in between their senior year of high school and sophomore year of college.  Seminars focus on life skills, leadership in college and in the bunk, and tikkun olam. The program tagline is “changing the world one bunk at a time”.

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