First night at Crane Lake Camp 2011

First night at Crane Lake Camp. (Also check out URJ Crane Lake Camp on FB.)  What a change since I was here 5 years ago!Crane Lake sunset my 1st night 2011Then, it was in transition — from being a sports camp where a lot of Jews attended, to becoming a Reform Movement summer camp, like the one I grew up at. (OK, the one “at which I grew up.”)  Now, it’s a Jewish camp with a really good sports program.

It was Fight Song Night. Old Crane Lake tradition. Won, for the second year in a row, by Chaverim girls. They’re 12 and 13, and they did a great song based on celebrating Bat Mitzvah. 5 years ago, I remember the Jewish content being very self-conscious and also self-serving, knowing that it would curry favor with the judges. Now, simply part of self-identity. And afterwards, Olim (oldest campers) were circling the flagpole singing, and suddenly broke out in “Hava Nagila.” That NEVER would have happened 5 years ago; in fact I think there wasn’t even Israeli dancing on Shabbat, and now it’s a regular tradition.

One of the coolest things is that, in what apparently began as a tradition last year, the 11th-graders who are on their summer trip in Israel videotaped and sent in a Fight Song entry!  It’s amazing — no, I don’t mean the technology, though believe me, I’ve been noticing lately how much of what we take for granted was speculative science fiction less than 50 years ago.  No, what really moved me was the way that having those Olim from last year “appear” at Fight Song Night helps to integrate camp with the Israel trip that’s offered for the year between being an oldest camper and returning as a machonik (counselor in training).  I was thinking about my 12-year-old son, hoping that it’s registering with him; hoping that making that journey will become a given for him.  Moved that this is one more way to draw him into his Jewish heritage.

Hard to be here, though, in other ways. Hard to be an Eema (Mom) and a member of the faculty at once — especially at bedtime, with two young children who are so excited and wired that it took from 8 to 11pm to get them to quiet down, and I finally had to go in and plead with them to help me, because it really is difficult. They got it, and they’re asleep now.

Which I’d also like to be, but I’m not even unpacked enough to find my pillowcases. And I can’t for the life of me find the piece of paper on which I wrote down what I’m supposed to be preparing to teach tomorrow to pre-teens. A few more “miles to go before I sleep…”

One very moving thing. When we celebrated Debbie Friedman’s life in January, one of the very last things (the last song?) we sang was her “Eliyahu HaNavi.” I didn’t do it for Havdalah that night because I’d forgotten it. Later in the evening somebody remembered, or found it in a songbook, and we sang it. I happen to love it, and it brings back feelings of camp.

Well, they made Havdalah tonight before the Fight Song contest began, and that’s what they sang. I sang it with joy, and tears (none in my eyes, but many in my heart), and my hand on my heart to feel it keep beating. I’d include a link but I can’t find it anywhere on-line. I’ll take it home and teach it to my congregation, though.

Life goes on. It’s passed l’dor va-dor לדור ודור, from one generation to another.

So here I am at camp, a rabbi and an Eema, closer to 50 than 45, and watching my children imbibe the same magic I did nearly 40 years ago.