How can your Jewish community maximize campers’ experiences when they arrive home?
Summer camp is exhilarating for our Jewish teens. For most, living Judaism 24/7 and not as an ‘add-on’ activity that so often happens on the home front is a powerful experience. The ways in which it’s different are probably obvious but some still deserve mentioning:
- Weeks at camp have the rhythm of Shabbat
- They’re socializing in a “Jewish bubble” surrounded by staff and friends who are all Jewish and who are making a commitment to be together for several weeks
- They’re being challenged in unique ways that stimulate thinking and growth
- Many or most of their activities are highly interactive and engaging
- The adults they interact with are supporting and non-threatening
- Camp is a socially safe (usually) environment where problems and issues are sorted out in real-time, when they occur.
So, how can we bridge these experiences to foster a deeper connection with Judaism when they arrive back home?
How can we assist our Jewish teens, who have just spent the summer being energized about a Judaism that is alive, pulsing, vibrant, and changeable, return home?
Here are some suggestions for using the talents our teens have gained over the summer:
#1. Mentor a group to begin a ‘camp style’ group at the synagogue, or community center. Members may have been to camp, or just be interested in this new offering.
#2. Put one or more Jewish teens on your committees to infuse it with some new ideas and approaches that they’ve learned at camp.
#3. Help the teens develop goals to incorporate one new and different thing from camp into experiential programming for your youth.
#4. Feature these Jewish summer camp experts as part of a panel that explores the ways in which your community can learn and be enriched by their experience.
#5. Get these teens in front of younger kids to share their experiences and foster motivation for a Jewish summer camp experience.
(optional #6: tell me how it goes!)
Photo credit: Wikipedia