January 1st marks the beginning of the secular new year, and even though I am a Jewish camp director who feels much more connected to the Jewish new year, I could not help but take a few moments this past weekend to reflect on the year that had passed and the year ahead. I found myself “Googling” Ramah Outdoor Adventure and came across many of the writings and videos I have posted over the past three years as well as the various articles that have been written about this new camp. My secular new year turned into a trip down memory lane.
In my reading and viewing there were two juxtaposing videos that stood out, and I want to share the links with the readers of this blog.
Thinking way back to when the calendar turned from 2009 to 2010, we were at the inception of creating Ramah Outdoor Adventure. We had about 45 campers registered for our opening session mainly in grades 8-10. We had hired most of our 20 staff members, as many of them had joined us for our staff training during the summer of 2009. Expectations about camp were sky high, yet there was a level of anxiety permeating our work in those days. None of us fully understood what it would take to realize the dream of opening a Ramah camp in the Rocky Mountains. Using still images mainly taken from both our own staff training and on the outdoor trips at Ramah in Canada, we pieced together this promotional video. That first summer at camp can never be replicated. We were a tiny group literally building a camp for the first time.
Now, as the calendar reads 2012, we are hard at work planning for our third summer with chalutzim (campers). While we are continuing to grow at a rapid pace (we have 185 chalutzim registered to date!), and are adding to our program (this summer expanding our younger camp program and opening a session for campers with special needs), we no longer have the same level of anxiety about how to operate a camp. Before 2010 we had so many questions about the logistics of running camp: how do we meet campers arriving on many different flights at the airport, how do we ensure food is delivered to camp in a timely manner, how do we ensure that meals are nutritious and plentiful? Now, we know how to obtain gate passes at Denver International Airport for almost any staff member who wants one, we know our food distributors by name (both local farmers and Sysco drivers), and we have provided literally thousands of excellent meals over the past two summers.
And of course, our video shows a community that is as alive and vibrant as the one we dreamt about in January 2010. One big difference between then and now is that we actually have our own campers and staff whom we can showcase in the video footage.
While it is six more months until we welcome our next group of chalutzim to the Ramah in the Rockies ranch, we are as passionate about ensuring that this summer continues to improve on our past successes. Our anxieties about the basic logistics of running a camp have been replaced with a desire to ensure that we have one the strongest camp programs in the country and that the chalutzim who walk through out gate each summer leave more passionate about their own Jewish identity, more committed to living an intentional Jewish life, more dedicated to living in concert with the natural world, more eager to engage in outdoor adventure activities and more confident that they can accomplish any challenge set before them. We continue to refine our camp programs and educational infrastructure to ensure that Ramah Outdoor Adventure is a place where these goals are realized.