From every corner of camp on Saturday night, you can hear campers singing goodbye to Shabbat. Campers put their arms around their friends’ shoulders, forming a circle around the burning Havdalah flame. They watch as members of their aidah lead the prayer, singing, lifting the candle, holding the grape juice, and passing around the spices. They sing in between each prayer and let the sound fill the indoor and outdoor spaces. On Saturday evening, camp is full of song as we all bid farewell to Shabbat and welcome in a new week.
If I count up all of the Havdalot I was a part of as a camper, the number reaches somewhere around 44 (Nivo 2008). I sang the same nigun (tune), stood next to the same friends, and enjoyed the same Shabbat evening ritual every week of camp. And each week it was truly special. Last week as I stood with Nivonim in the Ohel Yitzhak, I was brought back to my Nivo summer. I had a tradition with two other friends to always stand side by side, bringing in the new week together. That summer, we tried something new and held a campwide Havdalah—six flames rising in the air beside the lake—which was a truly incredible experience. At camp, we regularly think about the traditions we value, the ones we bring from home and those that begin here. In the light of the Havdalah candle, every new week brings with it new and exciting opportunities—and lots of hugs and “shavuah tov’s.”