When Music Brings Us Together

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By Erica Snyder, Waterfront and Sports Supervisor

A day at Kalsman starts and ends with music. Waking up the campers, saying the Modeh Ani, singing Morning Shirah—the camp is filled with song before activities even officially begin. Camp, for me, has always been about the community, and the music here at Kalsman creates a community unlike any other. We hear stories year after year of children and families singing camp songs in the middle of winter just to feel that spark that can somehow be ignited by one guitar strum.

Here at Kalsman, we are lucky enough to have had such talented song leaders and musicians that many of the songs sung on a daily, or weekly, basis are unique to this community. Four years ago during my first year on staff, I was bummed, to put it mildly, at the change in the tune from the Hashkivenu that I knew and loved from my time at URJ Camp Newman. I remember thinking, “Oh man, I’m not sure if I like this one.” The other just felt so, well, camp. But sure enough, just as I had been warned by every single staff member in that circle on my very first night, I grew to love the way we sing it here more than I could have thought, and the melodies we sing originated from Camp Kalsman’s first summers.

It is because of the music that camp is so special at the end of each day. The fact that we stand in units, sometimes as a whole camp, and sing Siyum together the same way, every night helps create that magical feeling as the sun has set beyond the trees, and helps remind us that this community really is special. And it’s even more special that every night, staff and campers can go to bed knowing that the first thing they’ll be greeted with the next morning will be song.