Taste of Ramah Palmer by Shira Lobron, Counselor
Our Tzad Bet campers, rising 3rd through 6th graders, got to experience the magic of the Ramah overnight camp in Palmer, MA, on their two-day overnight trip on August 1-2.
Our campers had a chance to experience all the highlights of the overnight camper experience. They slid down the waterslides, swung from great heights on the giant Alpine swing, participated in activities with overnight campers, created some beautiful art, and made shakshuka and s’mores during outdoor cooking!
Our campers smiled through the whole day. Words like “these have been the best two days ever!” were heard numerous times.
On a personal level, having the chance to show my campers the place I spent my summers – from the time that I was their age to just last year – did not go unappreciated. I loved looking at the days through their eyes and experiencing the familiar as brand new once again. It was so special getting to show them my summer home and the reasons it will always have a place in my heart.
More than just being a day packed to the brim with fun activities, the campers were constantly surrounded by Judaism, from the moment that we wished them a layah tov (good night) to the moment they were greeted with boker tov (good morning). Every meal began and concluded with a blessing, we sang our morning t’fillot, and we were surrounded by Hebrew signage and conversation.
A Jewish experience as immersive as this is not something all the campers get to experience during the school year. One of my campers, Jacob, lives in a town where he is one of the only Jewish kids in his class. He expressed to me during our visit how excited he was to be surrounded by other Jewish kids and learn about Judaism. It was wonderful to watch him sing along during t’fillot and to answer his questions about Hebrew.
Campers also got the chance to test their limits; the rope swing is a prime example. While being completely safe, the rope swing stretches many feet into the air, many times taller than your average Tzad Bet (B-side) camper. One camper initially rejected the prospect of swinging from that height, letting us know his feet planned to stay firmly on the ground. After seeing his friends go, he decided he’d give it a try, facing his fear and having fun while he was at it.
Many of the camper’s attitudes towards going to the overnight camp were similar. Many came in with the mindset that they wouldn’t be able to do it, but emerged more confident than they entered, saying they’d beg their parents to send them.
The day camp has prepared them well for this jump and I hope to see them next summer at Palmer!