How can your Jewish community maximize campers’ experiences when they arrive home?
Summer camp is exhilarating for our Jewish teens. For most, living Judaism 24/7 and not as an ‘add-on’ activity that so often happens on the home front is a powerful experience. The ways in which it’s different are probably obvious but some still deserve mentioning:
Weeks at camp have the rhythm of Shabbat
They’re socializing in a “Jewish bubble” surrounded by staff and friends who are all Jewish and who are making a commitment to be together for several weeks
They’re being challenged in unique ways that stimulate thinking and growth
Many or most of their activities are highly interactive and engaging
The adults they interact with are supporting and non-threatening
Camp is a socially safe (usually) environment where problems and issues are sorted out in real-time, when they occur.
So, how can we bridge these experiences to foster a deeper connection with Judaism when they arrive back home?
How can we assist our Jewish teens, who have just spent the summer being energized about a Judaism that is alive, pulsing, vibrant, and changeable, return home?
Here are some suggestions for using the talents our teens have gained over the summer:
#1. Mentor a group to begin a ‘camp style’ group at the synagogue, or community center. Members may have been to camp, or just be interested in this new offering.
#2. Put one or more Jewish teens on your committees to infuse it with some new ideas and approaches that they’ve learned at camp.
#3. Help the teens develop goals to incorporate one new and different thing from camp into experiential programming for your youth.
#4. Feature these Jewish summer camp experts as part of a panel that explores the ways in which your community can learn and be enriched by their experience.
#5. Get these teens in front of younger kids to share their experiences and foster motivation for a Jewish summer camp experience.
(optional #6: tell me how it goes!)
Photo credit: Wikipedia