One of the most significant aspects of Jewish Summer camp is the ability to live in Jewish time. Jewish professionals work hard year round to help our children integrate their Jewish and secular selves, gaining an understanding along the way that this is really one and the same. We are not Jewish (or Catholic or Muslim...) only when we go to synagogue or when we attend a Jewish program. Rather, our Jewish values can inform our actions and shape our choices in every aspect of our lives.
I believe that by sending our children to camp and giving them the opportunity to immerse fully in Jewish time, we better equip them to live Jewishly all the time. Prayer is an integral part of developing such an identity. What makes camp so special is that spirituality, prayer and worship are natural threads woven intentionally into the fabric of their day. Further, prayer is inherently inclusive despite the fact that not all worship settings or opportunities are. (I’d love to have a conversation with you about making your worship experiences more inclusive – it’s possible!)
Prayer at camp is also about experimenting, about moving away from what we think and expect prayer should be, and allowing ourselves to experience what prayer can be.
My good friend and colleague, Rabbi Rachel Ackerman and I developed what we call the Sidewalk Chalk service. Here, participants are encouraged to draw their reflections and thoughts while we recite and sing the words of our liturgy. It has become a unique, creative expression of prayer:
|Participants wrote the names of those in their memories as we prepared to recite Kaddish.|
Another good friend and colleague, Rabbi Ken Carr shared with us a beautiful reading. I hope that it may inspire you to think creatively about the prayer opportunities you may lead.
I had a box of colors —
Shining, bright, and bold.
I had a box of colors,
Some warm, some very cold.
I had no red for the blood of wounds.
I had no black for the orphans’ grief.
I had no white for dead faces and hands.
I had no yellow for burning sands.
But I had orange for the joy of life,
And I had green for buds and nests.
I had blue for bright, clear skies.
I had pink for dreams and rest.
I sat down