From our Assistant Rabbi & Educator: Why Send Your Rabbis to Camp?

As we say goodbye to the (very) warm, fun days of summer, we reflect on the amazing experiences had by our Rockdale community – especially our young people! Temple kids spent time at a number of day camps throughout the area, including next door at the JCC. Teens from the congregation explored Israel for the very first time, thanks to great programs run by our movement and greater Jewish community. And even more of our young members attended overnight camps, many of them Jewish, including Camp Livingston and GUCI. We are very proud that this summer, sixteen of our young people attended Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, IN. GUCI is our regional Reform Movement camp, where we send more of our congregation’s kids each summer than any other! Six Rockdale young adults served on GUCI’s staff, and two more of our Rockdale teens spent time at URJ Six Points Camps – both Sports and the brand-new Sci-Tech!

Two other people from Rockdale spent time at camp this summer – your rabbis! Every summer, Rabbi Coran and I have the privilege of spending two weeks each on faculty at GUCI. Along with the campers and counselors from Rockdale Temple and Reform congregations across the Ohio and Missouri Valley Regions, we pray, sing, learn, swim, create, laugh, eat, explore, climb, play, discuss, meet, and engage Jewishly – all day, every day, for two weeks! Jewish overnight camp is an amazing opportunity to encounter a spirited, living, breathing Jewish community filled with young people who are excited to infuse Judaism into every moment and every activity. We love the time we spend at camp and are thankful for the opportunity to spend time at GUCI.
You may be wondering, why is it important your rabbis spend part of the summer on faculty at camp? Here are just a few reasons…

  • Our Rockdale campers and counselors take pride in seeing THEIR rabbis in an environment they think is cool!
  • It’s a great professional development opportunity! We are exposed to amazing worship, creativity, Zionism, programming, music, and more – we return home with fresh ideas, melodies, and programs for the congregation.
  • We show our kids who are attending camp they are important! We spend two full weeks engaging with our young people in a different setting, enjoying informal (but important) interactions, and strengthening those relationships.
  • Camp is also an important networking opportunity! We create and develop relationships with other rabbis, cantors, youth workers, and educators (of every generation!) in the Reform Jewish world. We grow and are inspired as professionals by partnering, working with, and learning from these colleagues.
  • At camp, we participate in an intentional community where every single hour is spent living and learning Jewishly. For your rabbis on faculty, it provides 24/7 opportunities to talk with young people about things that matter.
  • We serve as Jewish role models for campers and counselors – showing them rabbis are fun, “hip,” and energetic. Plus, we know many Jewish professionals entered their fields because of the positive experiences and interactions with the rabbis, cantors, youth workers, and educators they met at camp!
  • Attending an overnight Jewish summer camp is one of the best ways to ensure a child’s future Jewish involvement as an adult – rabbinic attendance alongside our congregation’s kids shows we value their Jewish choices.
  • When a child’s rabbi goes to camp, it encourages that child (and his/her family) to choose camp, too! Our presence not only demonstrates the importance of camp, but also helps our newer campers feel at home. Plus, we always remind our kids to wear sunscreen.

Rabbi Coran and I are grateful for the opportunity to live and learn Jewishly each summer with our congregation’s young people at GUCI. We can’t wait to share all we’ve learned with you and all our young people this fall.

Rabbi Meredith Kahan
Assistant Rabbi & Educator