This week’s Two Voices asks: what are your lasting memories of Jewish summer camps?
Sally Patterson says…
AN RSY-Netzer summer camp means friendships, Jewish education and, for parents, a child-free two weeks! But this barely scratches the surface of the impact of my involvement.
RSY looks to create a summer camp with a special atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to question within a Jewish and a broader societal context. Passionate and proactive leaders create a ‘counter-culture’ built around Reform Jewish values.
Tikkun olam (repairing the world) is a great example of a principle that promotes care in the community, care for oneself, and care for the environment. Through
social action projects initiated by leaders and participants, ideas are brought back to synagogues, schools and universities, for example volunteering, setting up societies and getting involved in civil and political campaigns. Through engaging activities and creative prayer services, involved young adults are given the space to grow.
Time spent in a youth movement atmosphere inspires confidence, innovation and empathy in participants, who are comfortable taking on leadership roles. These are transferable, tangible skills that can and have been successfully applied in various situations; taking on positions of authority in school, initiating change and standing up for what we believe in. Our youth movement is instrumental in our lives in a deeply rooted and long-term way.
Sally Patterson is a member of Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue)
Frankie Stubbs says…
The lasting impact of Jewish summer camps comes from the experiences we have there, and the experiences we continue to have once camp has ended.
For the past few years, my role has been to work with our Reform communities, helping with their youth provision and building links between synagogues and RSY-Netzer.
When I talk to parents about the opportunities their child will have, I rarely talk about how strong our Hadracha leadership course is, how well trained our welfare officers are, or even about how it looks great on UCAS forms or CVs.
I tell them about how their child will be treated like an adult by the RSY-Netzer madrichim (leaders); I tell them stories about chanichim (participants) and madrichim having debates about Progressive Judaism that continue from programmes to meal times; I explain about how they will be given the opportunity to be challenged to leave their comfort zone and explore their potential; I share experiences where I have seen shy and quiet young people grow over time to become confident, caring, insightful and supportive young adults. This, for me, is the most exciting thing Jewish youth movements and summer camps offer.
I cannot wait to continue my Jewish journey by joining the rabbinate and continuing to see young people develop.
Frankie Stubbs is a community youth development worker at Reform Judaism