Part of a series by ARJE (Association of Reform Jewish Educators) voices on the topic of Jewish summer camp experiences.

by Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE

We must learn to think in moments, to spot the occasions that are worthy of investment…in organizations we are consumed with goals. But for an individual human being, moments are the thing. Moments are what we remember and what we cherish.

From: The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath

Thank you, Hannah Rubin-Schlansky, for mentioning this book to me. It certainly fits into how we prepare our children, our chanichim, to experience: A Summer of Fun, a Lifetime of Friends.”* Is it possible to pave the way so that these experience these moments will happen at camp or at least be remembered until chanichim return home? I cherish the memories of opening letters at camp from my parents and grandparents. I remember being part of musicals and just sitting in the chader ochel singing and having fun. This is what I wish for my chanichim and this is how we can begin to help our children who are on their way to a great summer. Here are some best practices which I have learned from my colleagues and years at camp:

  • Send letters to chanichim and mail a few days before their session begins and encourage their parents to do the same!
  • Design or have your chanichim design a congregational T-shirt
    • Wear said t-shirt at camp and take a picture at camp for your bulletin
  • Blog about camp and send to everyone in your congregation and especially to parents of chanichim. Be sure to include those “peak moments”!
  • Pictures of your chanichim at camp are ALWAYS appreciated by family at home. Take pictures (grouped with other children) and send privately to families at home
  • If you have a colleague at camp have them get pics of your chanichim to send on to parents
  • If you use an electronic email program, make a group of camp parents for easier distribution and multiple emails during the summer

The other group at camp that you should not forget about is your madrichim. I know how appreciative they are of extra attention through the summer. Other ideas for them:

  • Care package for Madrichim with: emergenC, Throat Coat tea, instant coffee and some candy goodies
  • Snail mail letters to Madrichim
  • Check in with Madrichim right before you are coming to camp to see if you can bring something from home they may need

These are just a few examples of how you can check in at your URJ camp and make sure that your chanichim have “A Summer that Lasts a Lifetime”*

Vanessa M. Ehrlich is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park, Illinois
*URJ OSRUI Tagline