Blog  Camp Values in Action: A Partnership with Jewish Family Services

Camp Values in Action: A Partnership with Jewish Family Services

By Max Weinberg, Senior Assistant Director

Camp makes amazing things happen.

About 4 years ago, I was working at an elementary school on the north side of Chicago.  I had the opportunity to immerse myself in this new community in which I was living and teaching.  I worked with 30 incredible 6th grade students, but not just in the classroom.  I spent time with them after school ended each day, helping in the classroom with their homework and outside coaching the school softball teams.  I ran into my students on a daily basis while walking down the street and eating in restaurants.  This immersive experience gave me a unique view into other communities, outside of the suburb in which I spent most of my life.

Camp makes amazing things happen.

Jewish summer camp is about providing an immersive Jewish experience to everyone who walks through the gates.  We teach and model important values that are hard to teach in other places in the world.  We teach our campers to respect one another.  We teach our campers how to make connections with people who are similar to us, and with those who are different than us.  When we come to camp, we leave distractions from our daily lives at the gate; we focus on what is going on around us, in this space, in this holy community.  Having the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Camp Kalsman community is one of the most amazing things about my job.

Camp makes amazing things happen.

In March of this year, the Kalsman professional staff met with staff members from Jewish Family Services (JFS) in Seattle.  At Camp Kalsman, we always look for opportunities to engage our campers, staff, and families in meaningful and engaging acts of mitzvot and tikkun olam.  During this meeting, we talked about the incredible services that JFS offers, and how JFS and Camp Kalsman have similar goals and values for the work we do in the Jewish community.  We want to teach our children that there are always actions we can take to make this world a better place, and we should never say, “Well, I think I’ve done enough.”  We saw this as a unique opportunity to partner with JFS for meaningful and engaging summer programming.

This partnership starts with each and every member of our community.  Each summer, Camp Kalsman selects an organization and hosts a collection drive for all of our camper families to participate in.  This summer, we will be collecting canned and dried goods for the Jewish Family Services Food Bank.  The JFS Food Bank provides food to hundreds of low-income individuals and families each month.  They rely on donations and volunteers to assist with collecting, packing, and distributing this food so families can put food on their tables.  This is something we can all contribute towards.

When you come to camp on Opening and Closing Days this summer, we are asking for each camper family to bring at least one bag filled with the following items:

  • Canned soup
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tomato products
  • Cooking oil
  • Packages of pasta

With these bags, our Kesher campers will be creating home delivery kits that will be delivered to the JFS Food Bank to be distributed directly to families in need.  We ask that you purchase generously to benefit these families.  Parents – take your children with you to the store when you purchase these items.  Talk about what it means to perform this important mitzvah by giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.  Immerse yourselves in this task and gain the full experience.

Additionally, throughout the summer, each camper unit will have the opportunity to learn about the services that JFS offers, and to take part in programming to further understand the important work that JFS does.

Don’t let this act of tikkun olam end when your children come home from camp.  Continue the discussion of how our Jewish values compel us to do mitzvot. Find opportunities to volunteer your time and donate items to a cause that is important to you.  Make it a family experience; something that your kids will remember as they grow older, and will eventually do with families of their own. There’s always more we can do.

Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena.

It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.

We are extremely excited to be working with JFS this summer, and look forward to continuing this meaningful partnership into future summers. For more information about Jewish Family Services Seattle, check out their website.

Camp makes amazing things happen.  Let’s make Summer 2017 an incredible one!

Kallah Aleph opens in 12 days…we can’t wait to welcome our campers home!