Appreciating Our Last Shabbat

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The unit of Chavurah led our final Saturday morning Shabbat services of summer 2022. Below are some of the words they shared.

By Melissa, Drew, Lola, Raya, and Mikayla: Dear Melissa, Thank you for always pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me find meaning and joy in things at camp that are not easy for me. Dear Drew, Meeting you just last year, your contagious laughter and smile has allowed me to seek meaning in all the small moments I’ve shared with you. Dear Lola, From late night talks, to Shabbat song session and more, you have helped me find the meaning of true friendship throughout the summers we have shared together. Dear Raya, From the first night of Kinneret to now, whenever I am upset, you help me find meaning in the joy that camp brings. Dear Mikayla,
You always have been there to cheer me up and support me. You’ve helped me see situations from a different light and have been a constant, meaningful part of my past eight years of camp. Dear Camp Harlam, Thank you for helping us find meaning in our Jewish Identities and helping us grow into the people we are today.

By Joaquin and Jared: Six years ago, we wrote a speech together about our firsts at camp. Today is our last Shabbat and we’ve been best friends since then. In those years we’ve done everything together, whether it’s waking up with puffy faces…together. Tag teaming…together. Laughing too much, even when we shouldn’t…together. Just like the Barechu calls you to come together and pray, we challenge you to come together and have the most fun you can.

By Lila, Carly, and Bailey: Living on Hillside and Woodside has always created a division within the unit. Throughout our years in Junior Camp, our unit didn’t have the close bond that is present today. When we were brought to live together in the village, new friend groups were formed that have brought us memories that will last a lifetime. Two years ago, the three of us barely knew each other. It wasn’t until we started living in the village that we really got the opportunity to know each other. Living as one community, we have faced a number of challenges but the chances you are given and the bonds you are able to make, always outweigh the negative.

By Gabby and Rachel: The Yotzeir Or is about the first thing God created, light. For us, camp is the brightest light in our lives. Even though we know this light will dim as we end our time as campers, the memories, and friends that we made here will keep it from going out. This summer, we learned a lot about the meaning of endings, and we know our chapter as campers is coming to a close, but this is not the end of our camp story. We know we won’t be at camp forever. But what we’ve gotten from our experiences here will continue to guide us in the darkness of our daily lives. Over the past seven weeks in Chavurah, we’ve learned to enjoy our beginnings, and to also celebrate our endings, although we know camp’s impact on us will never end. Gabby, I know we won’t have this place forever, but for the past several weeks you have become one of the brightest lights in my life and will continue to be in years to come. Rachel, whenever I need someone to brighten up my day, I can always come to you. Even if we’re not at camp, I know you’ll still be the light to make my cloudy days a bit happier.

By Sasha, Carly, and Sophia: The Mi Chamocha is a prayer celebrating freedom. As the Jewish people left Egypt, they rejoiced as a community. Living in the Chavurah village gives new freedoms that other units do not have. These freedoms, such as getting free time in the village and being able to live all together instead of being separated into different bunks, have allowed us to become a closer community. Just like how the Israelites were transformed as they left Egypt, our experiences in the village have also transformed us. Even though our time as campers is coming to a close, the people who we are after we leave camp will always be a reflection of our time at camp. The freedoms we have at camp have allowed us to find meaning and community.

By Ethan, Arielle, Mattie, Lily, and Mollie: Shabbat is a time to reflect and understand ourselves and the world around us. At camp, no matter what unit you are in, you are exposed to a feeling of love and community. In our village this summer, we have created our own little family. Each camper brings their own unique form of joy and friendship. Coming to camp for the first time, in Chavurah, I did not know what to expect. In just a few days, I already felt at home. Before I could blink, I am already in the Chavurah Village finishing out my final year as a camper. This year has taught me to cherish every moment and capture the joy of this place we all call home. Yismechu teaches a similar concept; to appreciate and cherish each moment of Shabbat. Shabbat is special in that it comes around every week. Although camp comes less often, we all learn to capture the joy of this special place.

By Jack, Bram, and Jacob: The Mi Shebeirach is a prayer for the healing of both ourselves and others. Throughout our time at camp, we’ve used this place as a space for healing both physically and mentally. Along with the big things like spending time with your closest friends, we have found the meaning behind other aspects of camp to grow and heal spiritually. The cold showers have made us more resilient with things we don’t care for. The nature and scenery have helped truly open our eyes and embrace our surroundings. Oh, and of course climbing the tower. The rope burn taught us to make the best of a bad situation, and a little bug spray doesn’t hurt. As we share the Mi Shebeirach one last time as campers, we went to remind everyone to find the meaning behind some of the lesser appreciated parts of camp, because it’ll help you grow and heal the most.

By Owen: Our careers at camp are short-lived, so it’s important to make as many friends as we can along the way. Humans are social creatures and part of that system is isolating people that don’t seem similar to us. Fortunately, we’ve evolved past the need to isolate people and we must now use the value of binah, understanding. When I first got to camp the summer of 2017, my Sharon year, I was super homesick. I missed my family and my friends back home. I felt like I was in a slump and I desperately wanted to get home. Fortunately, one of my closest friends looked past my melancholy exterior and saw me, he understood what I was going through and put in the effort to comfort me. Another example that proves the importance of understanding was in my Arava year. A new kid came to camp and stayed in the bunk next to me. We didn’t speak much for the few days of camp. He was very quiet and shy. Even though we didn’t seem to have that much in common, I reached out and found that he had an overwhelmingly awesome personality. I took the time to get to know him and he became one of my best friends. So the next time you see someone sitting alone, practice some binah and learn to understand them.

By Maya: Through my years of camp, I have had to do activities that didn’t interest me. Whether it was instructional swim, J-life, or S’morning. I learned to find the best in it and to seek meaning in what I was doing. Without instructional swim, I wouldn’t have been able to go on the rafting trip. J-life helped teach me about my Jewish identity. And S’morning helped me prepare for my day, even though I had to wake up early. As my days as a camper are coming to an end, I’m glad I found the best in everything and sought meaning in what I was doing so now I have amazing life-long memories that will last forever.

By Sam: When I first came to camp, I thought being here was only to make friends and to have something to keep me busy during the summer. Now looking back on that, I understand that the meaning of being at camp is so much more than that. Through all the rainy days, tough nights, and boring programs, I’ve learned to understand that the negative aspects of these things are outweighed by the good things that you find when seeking the meaning of the negatives. The positives like the bonds you create that turn the friends into family and all the memories that are made, Now as it’s my last year as a camper, I understand the meaning of camp.