I’m scared to go to overnight camp

Posted on July 1, 2015

“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.  What my day will look like is completely unknown to me.  I don’t have any friends going.  I’ll be sleeping away from my home.  I probably won’t like the food either.”

These could be sentiments shared by our children and teens before they go to overnight camp, but alas they are actually mine.  I’m going for the first time to Camp Newman, the Union for Reform Judaism, in Northern California for two weeks in July.  Many rabbis and Jewish professionals do this.  It’s a way of serving the greater Jewish community, supporting our own temple youth, and participating and leading creative Jewish programming.  I’ve been asked for years to do this and somehow found the right excuse not to.  Not this year though.  I know the timing is right and it’s the right thing to do.  However, it’s all new to me.

As an adult, I can be fearful of the unknown just as our kids are. Even as I confess that I’m a bit nervous about sleeping away from home without people I like and love, I am very curious to see the camp and how it works.  Our synagogue has been promoting Camp Newman because it is a product of our movement and reflects our values. Through the Lynn Front Memorial URJ Campership Fund of our Foundation, we have been providing grants for our youth with priority to those entering 7-9th grade with financial need and absolute merit to attend Camp Newman.  Through the vision of Seth Front, son of the late Rabbi Henri and Regina Front, we have been sending record numbers of youth to Camp Newman.  The reports from our youth have been amazing.  I have heard from everyone how much fun their camp experience was, all the friends they made, and they genuinely have an excitement for Judaism upon their return.

My experience, as an adult and rabbi, I expect to be different from our youth. I am looking forward to seeing the camp, helping with programming and worship, and keeping an eye out for our Temple youth.  I may not like the food but I do anticipate working with dedicated staff and clergy during my time away.  I’ll be sure give you a report on activities at camp.  In the meantime, off I go.