July 25, 2018

Staff Camp Fire

By Brooks Weaver

Let me tell you a story….

Last night at Emma Kaufmann Camp, it was another staff “meeting” night.  However, we affectionately call these “events.”  Because a “meeting” happens in a board room.  We don’t do board rooms at camp!

The staff gets together every Tuesday night in the Chadar Ochell (dining hall).  During this time we reflect on the week we had and get motivated for the week ahead.  We play some games, have some fun and we have a mini buffet.  The best!

Last night we skipped all that.  We turned out the lights and put signs on the doors at the Chadar Ochell (dining hall) that said, “don’t come in, go directly to the main fire pit.”  “What!?”  They were probably saying, “but we always go to the dining hall for staff events, and….it’s raining!!!!”

But this is camp.  Things change at a moment’s notice all the time.  Things we can and cannot control.  Part of the fun of camp, is that we can do things differently and switch it up any time we want.  Truth is, we have to do things differently.  Doing things differently keeps everybody fresh and keeps them on their toes.

So here we are, it’s 11:30 pm on a Tuesday night, and over 100 staff is sitting at the main fire pit.  Sitting.  Talking.  A little light singing.  No phones.  Just being at camp.  In the ‘light dew.’

When it got quiet, I stood up in front of everyone and said “Where in this world can you do what we are doing right now?  Look around.  Smell the fire.  Look at the stars” I know, I said it was raining…just go along with me on this please.  “Tomorrow, we have a late wake up (cue outrageous cheers), probably some cheesy eggs for breakfast, then off to the ropes courses and to arts, robotics, the lake and definitely free swim and 3 free meals and then we do it all over again the next day.  But in 2 short weeks, exactly 2 weeks from tonight, nobody will be here.”  And then I said nothing.  Silence.   You could hear a pin drop….and a horse in the background, and definitely some crickets and frogs.

The saying at camp goes, “the days are long but the weeks are short.”  Bottom line: the summer goes by fast.  Real fast.  The truth is, in all my summers at camp, I’ve never been a part of one that went slow.

There were some smiles.  Because the staff is feeling great about camp.  But there were also a lot of tears knowing that the end is going to be here before we know it.  Yet we still have 2 more weeks to go….or is it that we ONLY have 2 more weeks to go?

My final message to the staff was this – spend the time NOW with your kids.  Create the relationships NOW!  Not later when it’s too late.  Pirkei Avot  says, “if not now, when?”  Rabbi Tarfon says, “even if we cannot complete the work, we cannot desist from it.”  These are valuable Jewish lessons our staff need to hear as we begin our last 2 weeks of the summer.

And then we went to the chadar ochell and had cheese blintz soufflé’s and some real good noodle kugel by Kim…cause really, isn’t that what it’s actually all about?!

We Are Family!