“At the core of what we do: Camp Wise’s Jewish Core Values” Spring 2015 / Volume 1 Issue 5

At Camp Wise, campers have the incredibly unique opportunity to live in a completely Jewish space. You can feel it as you drive into camp under our entryway of a Magen David or see it on our central lawn as an Israeli flag flies high next to its American counterpart. Buildings and camper villages don Hebrew names. Certain activities and times of day are referred to in Hebrew. Our entire week, as well as our concept of time, runs on a”Jewish clock.” As Shabbat approaches on Friday afternoon our schedule slows down so we can prepare to celebrate as a community. All of our weeks end and begin at magical candle-lit Havdalah services led by our campers.  At the core of our program lie our six Jewish Core Values that drive our culture, community, and summer experiences that so many love so deeply.

The foundation of our Jewish Core Values, along with the open nature of our educators (be they counselors, visiting educators or peers) helps to make the Jewish aspects of our camp program accessible to everyone, regardless of knowledge or experience. During the summe,r campers gain a sense of ownership for their own Jewish exploration and identity. The emotional, spiritual, and religious connections evoked at camp create campers and staff members who are hacham lev (wise of heart), who become seekers of kehillah (community), hochmah (wisdom) and shalom (peace), which they carry with them beyond camp into the ‘real word.’

This blog post is an introduction to our Jewish Core Values. We invite you to use it as a reference point–and as the summer progresses please follow our campers’ mahalak (Jewish journey) through our blog posts, photo galleries*, Facebook updates (Facebook/campwise), Twitter posts (@CampWise), and Instagram pictures (campwise13164).

Our Six Jewish Core Values

Kehillah (Community):

IMG_2614When each individual feels investment and commitment to those around them, an environment of trust, loyalty, and support is created. This sense of belonging to something bigger than the self inspires kavod (respect) and chesed (kindness), and forms a safe space for learning and growing. This starts in the bunk with each camper feeling a part of something special, and is just as important for the staff members to feel this sense of belonging to the community to be effective doogma esheet (role models).

B’tzelem Elohim (In the Image of God):

The Torah teaches that everyone is created in the image of God, and at camp this extends from the kitchen staff, to counselors, to campers with special needs. Staff members model the importance of appreciating differences, honoring their own bodies and minds, and taking care of each other, with an emphasis on lashon tov (good speech). In the unique camp pecking order of ‘cool’, mensches (decent people) are honored and recognized, and emerge as leaders among both campers and staff.

Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests):

A sense of belonging is what brings people back each summer, but the camp community is also a IMG_8434place for newcomers to be warmly welcomed. Just as Abraham and Sarah opened their tents for visitors (Genesis, Chapter 18), chesed (kindness) and hospitality are extended at camp to new campers, staff, and guests in an effort to lessen the intimidation of a new culture and setting.

Clal Yisrael (The Unity of the Jewish People):

The sense of belonging rooted in the camp community is extended to a responsibility for the global Jewish community, and a love for both the land and people of Israel. Ziyonut (Zionism) is emphasized by a commitment to creating personal connections between individuals and Israel.

Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World):

In a natural and beautiful setting, the physical space of camp becomes the experiential training ground for ba’al tashchit (not destroying) and teva (nature). Campers are tuned in to ma rabu masecha (finding awe in our surroundings) and are shown the importance of stewardship of camp and the planet. Tikkun is explored at all levels by learners – starting with mitzvot (good deeds) within camp and extending to the larger community.

DSC_0316Kavanah (Spirituality):

If formal Jewish education provides an individual with the keva (structure) of Jewish life, then camp is where kavanah (spirituality or direction of the heart) is discovered. Camp is where Judaism comes to life, through hidur mitzvah (creativity), simcha (celebration), and above all else, ruach (strength of spirit).

*photo galleries are password protected and may only be accessed by current camp families and their guests. Please contact the office to find out how a current family can invite you as a guest.