Bookends

Bookends
by Jacob Cytryn, Director

June 12 and August 6 – the opening and closing days of the 2018 season – are the bookends of our summer at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

As the sun sets tonight, a mixture of calm and quiet coupled with frenetic energy will descend on camp along with the knowledge that tomorrow’s sunrise will bring the first day of camp. As the sun sets on August 5, campers and staff begin an evening of saying good-bye with the knowledge that the next morning the sun will shine on them in the parking lot as they board the buses for home.

Later tonight our staff will creatively use poster boards and markers, Popsicle sticks and tape, to make welcome signs (ברוכים הבאים! ברוכות הבאות! / B’ruchim haba’im! B’ruchot haba’ot!), labels for each camper’s bed and shelves, and a nikayon (cleaning) chart with a rotation of chores. On the last night of camp, the same staff members will sit with their campers to create a cabin plaque from markers, paint, and wood that will hang on the wall as a testament to their summer.

At home, hundreds of campers and their parents are filling duffel bags and backpacks with the final accessories for a summer in the Northwoods, the little things and the special comforts of home. (Some reminders: bug spray, a favorite stuffed animal, tallit / tefillin and kippot, toothbrushes, and sun screen.) At the end of the season, those same parents will be digging through duffel bags and backpacks, unpacking the contents along with the sand all of us accumulate over a summer at camp.

In between these bookends rests a powerful space – the experiential bookshelf of our lives. We open up the front cover of our empty books – individual and communal ones – and together begin writing the narrative of our 2018 season. The volume titled Camp Ramah in Wisconsin: Summer 2018 will be filled with meaningful memories of fun, friendship and vibrant Jewish living, written by each and every member of our camp community.