The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Gone Campin’

Posted in personal growth by Juliet on May 27, 2010

The Grossmans are going to camp!

From everything I’ve heard and read, Jewish camp is a great experience.  Indeed, many adults consider Jewish camp to be a defining experience in their young lives.

I never went to Jewish camp as a kid.  My sister and I went to an East Coast-style horsey camp in the Santa Cruz mountains, and as later in high school I went to tennis camp.

For his part, my East Coast-bred husband went to a secular camp with large Jewish clientele.  He camped for years and even returned as a counselor.  He made lifelong friends there.

Because we live in a predominantly non-Jewish area, I view Jewish sleepaway camp as an important immersion for Eva (and Jane, when she’s old enough. )  It’s kind of like the religious version of moving to Tokyo to learn Japanese.

Maybe a more apt comparison would be the feeling I have when I  – a vegetarian – eat at Native Foods or Real Food Daily.  I can order anything – ANYTHING! – from the entire menu?  Really?  Not just one small section of one small column, or a “regular” dish prepared with four modifications?  Wow.  Wow!  WOW!

I want our girls to have the experience, even if it’s just for two weeks, of being in a place where every single person surrounding them is Jewish.  Moreover, it’s an environment of complete and utter Jewish pride:  the songs, the games, the shabbat rituals (they dress up), the Hebrew, the food…the very spirit of the place.

We chose Camp Ramah for Eva. There are Ramah camps all over the country (in fact, there’s one in New York near where Scott grew up, though he never went there), and the one nearest to us is in Ojai. It’s right down the road from Sheila Cluff’s famed budget-friendly spa, The Oaks (when I have gone to Ramah on women’s retreat weekends in the past, we’ve done early morning walks alongside Oaks ladies. Cluff has another budget-saver, The Palms, which is out in the desert.)

Ramah offers a family camp over Memorial Day weekend, and we figured not only would it be a fun activity for us to do together, but it would be a good way for Eva to get the lay of the land and be familiar with Ramah before heading there on her own as a camper in a couple of months.

Eva gets to bunk with kids her own age, while Scott and I will be in a lodge (hotel room-like accomodations.) Jane will be sharing our room. There are activities for the kids during the day, babysitting at night, and adult activities planned as well.

I’ll be back, with plenty of pictures. Someone say kayna hara for poison oak for us!

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