On the 4th of July, we gathered for services for the first time this summer in the newly renovated Chapel on the Hill. The Jewish Life staff as well as a camper from each unit shared their thoughts about independence and freedom and what it means to us a camp community.
By Maya S. (Carmel)
This is my first summer at camp. Even though I was excited about starting, I was nervous too. I was wondering if I would feel welcome. But I didn’t have to worry because everyone made me feel that way. They listen to me when I have a thought to share or something on my mind.
I never really heard about Chapel on the Hill until I got here and saw it from a distance. I’ve listened to things people have to say about the Chapel. I hope Chapel on the Hill will always be a symbol of a camp where everyone knows their voices are heard.
By Sadie and Ellie (Sharon)
Freedom to us means to be independent. At camp, during “FUN” period we get to choose the activity we want to do. At camp, freedom also means that we get to choose our arts, athletics, and much more. Freedom in our bunk means getting to choose what to do during our free time. Camp is a place where everyone can be themselves.
Shayna S. (Kineret)
During Haskiveinu, we pray that God protects us throughout the night and teaches us right and wrong. Each and every day, we ask God’s protection of everyone regardless of race, religion or gender. We are taught to be kind and we hope to be safe from cruelty or hate. We ask these things not just for us, but for all people. The fourth of July is when we celebrate freedom and we ask for it for everyone. We ask your protection for those who keep us free.
Katelyn and Claire (Arava)
Freedom means having the ability to have an opinion on who you are and who you want to be. That’s respecting other people’s decisions and choices because it’s not a choice we get to make. It’s important to include everyone regardless of their personal preferences. Remember that everyone has their differences and that’s what makes each and every one of us unique. Inclusion and freedom are important parts of what we learn here at camp. The Chapel is a place where we can express who we are or who we want to be without needing to worry or feel uncomfortable.
By Jacob F. (Galil)|Hello Harlam. I am Jacob F, a Galil camper and a son of a Rabbi. Camp has been a safe space, and my happy place, for years. The Chapel has been a symbol of peace for generations and as it is rededicated, we hope that it stays peaceful. Now let us join in singing Shalom Rav to remind ourselves to keep us, the Chapel, camp and the world, safe.
By Eliza K. (K’Far Noar)
The years’ 1776 and 1948 have something special in common. These are the years that my two favorite places gained their independence – America and Israel. Gaining independence is taking on a role of leadership, thus trying to include everyone.
This year when I came to camp, one of the first things the counselors did was ask what pronouns each individual used. This started a pattern of not assuming one’s gender based on their appearance and welcoming everyone into this safe and sacred space.
Another way Harlam makes camp inclusive is by the signs on the bathroom doors. It sums up to say that if you identify as this gender, you are more than welcome to use the bathroom of your choosing.
In the end, we are all made of the same things, and we are created “b’tzelem Elohim” – in God’s image. But we don’t have to all feel like we are set in one gender. As we celebrate independence day today, we are thankful that we can express who we want to be not based n appearance but by soul.
By Becky W. (Chavurah)
We have all been leaders since birth. As we develop, the meaning of this changes. Here at camp we are constantly given opportunities to be leaders. Whether that be starting the silent cheer as a Carmel camper or planning a program as a Chavurah camper, they are just as important. Sometimes the task of people relying on you can be daunting – like speaking in front a large group of people to voice an opinion – but that is what being a leader is all about. We are all fortunate to be in a place where we are supported to take action and lead. Everyone wants their fellow Harlamites to thrive. If something goes wrong, we all have a shoulder to lean on. Here is the place to try to take action and lead. Your leadership can do so much good in this world. Take a minute to think about how you can be a leader as you go through camp. I encourage you to put yourself out there and try it.
Oren S. (Gesher)
Fun fact: The current American flag was designed by a 17 year old for a school project. It got a B-. After Congress accepted the design, the teacher changed the grade to an A, realizing that she was wrong.
And that’s okay. Being wrong is okay, as long as you’re willing to fix it. That’s what America stands for.
Heck, I don’t even know if that fun fact is true. I found it on some sketchy website that also said 1 in 8 Americans have been employed by McDonald’s.
And you know what? I thought that giving extra snow cones as a prize for winning Coke and Pepsi would not make the kids super hyper. I was wrong.
And we all know America has been wrong too. Discrimination in all forms happens in our country. But America has begun to be a much more inclusive place.
I guess my advice to you is…be wrong?
Or not really “be wrong” – like don’t purposefully tell everyone that breakfast is at 8 if it’s late wake-up. *cough* Josh *cough*. I just mean to be okay with being wrong. And be okay with other people being wrong. Just make sure that you do your part to correct that wrong.
And you know what they say…thank you!