Thoughts as we welcome Shabbat…
I began coming to Machaneh Ramah seven summers ago as a part of the Mumchim (adult) Tzevet (staff). I remember one of the first things that I fell in love with about camp was its physical beauty. If you have been lucky enough to walk the campgrounds then you know that it is truly a physically spectacular place. The first thing that you see when you arrive at camp is the agam (lake), it is breathtaking- a big open body of water surrounded by tall trees with a mountain view in the distance, and if the sun is shining it looks like there are diamonds dancing on the water. Go deeper into camp and you feel like you are walking through the forest. Tall strong pine trees and oak trees and shrubbery of all sorts, it feels enchanted. The amazing part of spending the summer in these surroundings is that it allows for the extraordinary where you can connect to nature and one another in a very special way, it’s the perfect backdrop for a magical summer experience.
As I walk the campgrounds as we prepare to welcome Shabbat one last time together this kayitz (summer) and as we prepare to watch Adat Ha-Nivonim in their final pre-Shabbat performance I’m looking around and marveling at the natural beauty that surrounds me and once again I’m thinking about the trees. I wonder if the trees could talk the stories that they could tell about the thousands of campers that they watched grow up. They would speak of the children they saw getting off the bus as they arrived for their first summer at Ramah. They would tell stories of how they saw campers learn to swim and then how those campers grew up and came back to camp as lifeguards because they fell in love with the agam. They could regale us with tales of tzevet (staff) that met at camp, married and now the trees watch their children grow. Oh, if the trees could talk, they would tell us of the tunes sung in the chorsha (grove) as Shabbos was welcomed into camp summer after summer. There are so many things that the trees would say because they watched as a piece of Jewish history unfolded before their eyes in Palmer Massachusetts.
The Torah tells us that a person is compared to a tree, it seems so fitting because if you understand that trees are held strong by their roots, that they stand tall with a solid foundation, and that they have the potential to give on so many levels then of course the Torah understood how much a person has the potential to resemble a tree if nurtured properly. Machaneh Ramah, once again you have fostered an environment rooted in Jewish values, you nurtured the chanichim on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, and you taught them that they have everything in them to be givers to their families, their communities, to Israel and the Jewish people at large. Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Machaneh Ramah.