Home February 2012 Taking the Leap

Taking the Leap

When is my child ready for summer camp?  Parents wonder to themselves when is exactly the right time to make this leap in their family’s lives.  For me it came at the age of ten.  Way back in the summer of 1991 I was off for my first Jewish Camping experience.  This was a great leap forward for me and my parents.  On their part the action of letting go and sending me off “on my own” for the first time in my life was not an easy decision.  For me it was the start of independence, fending for myself, defining who I am and who I was going to be, and, without my knowing it, I was on the path to discovering my Jewish self.

There are many types of summer camp experiences in the world.  However, as Jews, Jewish summer camp is perhaps the most important experience that we can offer our youth.  Summer camp in general certainly gives children a sense of independence, but a Jewish summer camp begins a special connection that is difficult to achieve anywhere else.  The first time a child is running around, screaming, singing, dancing, all in the name of Shabbat is a powerful moment.  The first time children rise as the Torah is taken from the ark and look around to see a sanctuary made of trees, grass and flowers is a powerful moment. That first campfire watching friends and strangers make total fools of themselves and feeling the common thread throughout the crowd that we all share, a tradition, a culture, a bond — that is powerful moment.

There is no denying that Jewish camp strengthens Jewish youth, but the question remains, “When do I send my child?”  The great news for parents in the Orange County community is that this question can be answered by sending their children to The Bureau of Jewish Education’s Community Shabbaton the weekend of March 2 to 4 at Camp Alonim in Simi Valley. Every year more than 300 third to eighth graders from all over Orange County come together to experience Jewish summer camp for a weekend.  The participants on this weekend have the opportunity to learn from inspiring educators, bond with our trained and skilled youth staff and experience Shabbat with friends old and new.

The Community Shabbaton has become the testing ground for thousands of kids in past years to give camp a try.  This experience has helped families figure out how ready they are to take that leap to a summer experience.  No matter what families decide, the values our kids come home with each year are invaluable to their development as Jews.

Powerful moments happen on our Shabbaton.  They sing, dance and run around in the name of Shabbat.  They feel the energy of learning Torah in an experiential setting.  They see the common thread that weaves its way through each child, each staff member and each educator.  This is where the journey begins to camp, to identity building and to community.  How do you get started?  Join us on the Shabbaton and take the leap.

For more information about registering your child for the Community Shabbaton, please contact Eric Nicastro at (949) 435-3450 or eric@bjeoc.org.

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