Shoafim — An Edah is Born

    As we begin to wrap up our summer in Shoafim, the tzevet (staff) is shifting our focus and our goals for our hanichim towards the future and their development beyond the summer.  Now, in week eight, our hanichim are beginning their transition into 7th grade, which brings with it the transition to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Jewish adulthood, and Tzad Bet (B-side) next summer.  One of the major goals in transitioning to Tzad Bet is not only strengthening the tzrif (bunk) unit, but also beginning to develop an edah identity and a larger group dynamic.  This theme is at the forefront of our programming in the upcoming week, and I am delighted to share with you a story from yesterday's Rock Cats game that gave me a good feeling about our hanichim as leaders for each other and as participants in the family dynamic that is the crux of what the Ramah edah structure is all about.

    On our way back from the game, with the majority of our edah on one bus together, several hanichim began singing songs together in the typical raucousness of a camp bus ride.  Shortly into their singing, the energy picked up and spread as the hanichim, on their own, started an ice-breakerg game called "Bulldog."  The game involves a chant that each person playing has to repeat, in turn, which has to it a call-and-response component.  The inevitable result is that all of the players respond with enthusiasm and support to the person calling out the chant on that turn.  As the excitement grew, more and more hanichim began to take a turn, until it became apparent that the group wanted every single hanich on the bus to take a turn, whether in their tzrif or another, or whether in their typical circle of friends or another.  It was without a doubt a highlight of my own camp experience: the combination of watching Shoafim hanichim take a leadership role in the edah, and experiencing the transformation from the individual to the group mentality as they strove to support every single hanich and make everyone feel that they were a special, and necessary, element in the family that is Shoafim.

    These are the moments that make camp what it is, and it is one that I will carry with me beyond this summer.  It gives me a good feeling about what will become of Magshimim 2011 and all that they will accomplish as a team, as an edah, and as another camp family to grow up together.

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