Spotlight: Shabbat at Camp

Shabbat at Camp

Camp friends celebrating the Jewish Sabbath

Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath} is a very special time at day camp. Every week it is a time to take a deep breath, relax, think over our week and count the many blessings in our lives. At camp that could mean being thankful for our counselors, for the new friends we have made, for learning something new, or for just being able to go to camp in the beautiful natural setting of HKC.

Camps celebrate Shabbat in many different ways. At some camps, the campers begin preparing for Shabbat during the week, others designate Friday as a special day.  The campers may make special decorations in Arts & Crafts or learn about challah, the special braided Shabbat bread, and bake some of their own.  Still other

Baking challah for oneg shabbat

campers learn Shabbat songs and dances and are taught the special blessings.  Each week there is something new to experience.

Some camps use weekly themes based on Jewish values and culminate their programming with Shabbat activities related to the theme. Camp Yomawah of the YM-YWHA of Washington Heights has a different theme for each 2 week session. The theme for the first session of camp is friendship.  New Country Day Camp of the Educational Alliance/14th Street Y has a theme for the entire summer. The theme is Heroes.

Each week the campers will meet different Jewish heroes,

Campers bless the sabbath candles

each representing a core value. The first week of camp, the hero was Queen Esther, who chose her words wisely.  The second week the camp hero was Noah, and he taught the campers about safe spaces.

At other camps, campers wear something special for Shabbat – maybe their camp T-shirt or a special colored shirt. Almost all the day camps go through the tradition of lighting and blessing the Shabbat candles, making Kiddush over the grape juice and blessing and eating challah. Singing and telling stories are part of the Shabbat fun.

Each camp at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds has its own traditions and ways of differentiating and making Shabbat special. Ask your kids, “How did you celebrate Shabbat at camp this week?” to hear about what they did.

Shabbat Shalom! Have a restful and peaceful Shabbat.

Photo Credits: top – SI JCC, middle – SI JCC, bottom – HKC archive
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