Though we are not at Jacobs Camp right now, that doesn’t mean the magic can’t be with us. It’s sad to wake up every day and wonder what we would be doing if we were at camp right now. We will always remember things like minors, chugs, specialties, but there some things at camp we don’t even realize are going on that make the magic that much more real, that can help us outside of camp too. Jacobs Camp has prepared us to be out in the world making our own decisions since Kochavim. Camp has taught us to be problem solvers, to work autonomously, yet to also work with a community.
For example, when I was younger one major thing at camp was to collect bracelets; this activity was geared towards kids and could help them learn while still having fun. There were four values every summer that corresponded to a bracelet. I still have some to this day like integrity, work ethic, gratitude, and community. The way to earn those bracelets was to display whatever the value on the bracelet was, to earn it as an achievement. Simple right? But as simple as it was, it never got old. We would learn about these values in Kahillah, and as we got older, in our specialties. This taught kids that doing the right things in life would get you farther than doing the wrong, it taught kids that they need to work together, and most of all it taught them to stay informed and to always keep learning.
It is a fundamental belief in Judaism that you should never stop learning. You should always hold yourself accountable and always stay informed. Especially today in our society and with what’s going on, the new information that comes out daily can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Nonetheless, it is our job as Jews and citizens of a community to do our part to help it change. Sitting idly by and watching as issues arise is no way to help our community; camp has helped me to learn that taking action to help others is possible. Even by doing simple team building activities in adventure, I have learned how to help my community without sacrificing my values. Just being at camp there will be drama and gossip, but even that has taught me to be a problem solver and to iron out issues without leaning on others unnecessarily. It can be easy to depend on others in an environment like camp where you’re surrounded by people who will support you, but nonetheless Jacobs Camp forces you to solve issues on your own, or even with your peers without you knowing it. That trait is surprisingly hard to come by in the outside world.
Camp has also taught me vital life skills that school hasn’t. School teaches fundamentals like math, science, English, etc, but camp teaches you skills you’ll never get anywhere else. Camp teaches you to act on what you’ve learned. For example, in school, you may study how people have solved the issues facing them throughout history, how they stood up for themselves and others, but at camp you put those feelings into action and you learn how to do it for yourself. You can study how to do something for years on end but if you never try to do it you don’t get anywhere.
We have had evening programs too that made me want to enact change. One specific evening program from summer 2019 changed my view on a lot of things. This program was written by my counselor, Britney, and many people said they didn’t like this program at the time because it dealt with serious issues only a few days into camp, but without this program, I think a lot would’ve been different going forward. This program consisted of two activities, but one of them is the one that made the impact. Everyone stood in a line blindfolded, while the counselors read off personal sentences, that were potentially triggering to some people there. Essentially, if they read of a sentence that applied to you and showed you had a certain amount of privilege, you took a step forward, and if they read off a phrase that applied to you and showed the opposite you took a step back. Then after the exercise, everyone took their blindfolds off and we looked around the room to see where our peers stood. While we didn’t know what specific issues applied to each person, this still made an impact. Surprisingly, being vulnerable like this is maybe one of the scariest things to do, even if it is with people you consider your family. But also, once you are vulnerable with the people around you, you can help each other and become closer as a community. You can assume everything you want about a person, but once you see them in that room ten steps in front of you, or ten behind, you learn to appreciate them more. This program really helped me to look at myself, and other people in a different light, and how you shouldn’t be judging people. This program started positive conversations for the rest of the summer, and it really changed my, and hopefully my peers, views on things.
We can make a change. We can help others make a change. We can listen to the voices of other people in our community and we can support them to help make a change. Being uneducated is not an excuse to be silent, especially when we have the resources to educate ourselves. It is also no one else’s obligation to educate you, that autonomy camp has taught us is useful because sometimes we need to teach ourselves and not rely on others to teach us. We need to cooperate with our community though, and we need to be problem solvers to enact the change we desire. That’s why it’s important to reflect on what camp has taught us and why. Even if we aren’t there, that doesn’t mean we can’t think about the life lessons we’ve learned.
Belle is from New Orleans, Louisiana, and was looking forward to her seventh year as a camper this summer. She is a rising ninth grader at Benjamin Franklin High School and dances with New Orleans Ballet Association.