Educationally Speaking – January 2017

Camp Weekend: Decades-Long Tradition–with a Twist

Debi M. Rowe, MAJE, RJE, Director of Education and Programs

For nearly fifty years, students in our Torah School have engaged in a weekend-long program of learning and fun at a camp away from San Pedro. Most of those years were spent at either Camp Hess Kramer or Gindling Hilltop Camp, both properties of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Malibu.

This year, we continued the tradition of going away to camp, but with a twist. We joined with four other synagogues from around the greater Los Angeles area, and divided our students into two different age groups. In early December our students in grades Alef/3rd through Heh/7th spent time with age mates at Camp JCA Shalom, nestled high in the hills above Malibu.

Our students had the opportunity to get to know peers from all over the city and began to form bonds that will hopefully last through their years in NFTY, (the Reform Movement’s High School Youth movement) and perhaps at Camp Newman or 6 Points Sports Academy.

Our theme for the weekend was “Celebrating Shabbat” and our children got to make hallah, blend a grape juice-apple juice smoothie on a “blender bike” (you must ask!), engage in enthusiastic singing, and exploring nature as part of Shabbat morning t’fillah. They also got to scale climbing walls, go on the zip line, toss real horseshoes, throw a tomahawk, and many other things that made this weekend truly unique.

The staff at the camp was wonderful, and we were able to contribute David Gibson and Eric Jimenez as cabin counselors. Robb Zelonky, better known as “Robbo”, an award-winning singer and songwriter of children’s songs, is the in-house musician at the camp, and led us in song and prayer with delightful enthusiasm.

In early February, our Confirmation Department students in grades 8 – 10 will get to do the same thing: go away to camp, and spend time with age mates from all over Los Angeles.