This summer over 700 Jewish children from across the Pacific Northwest will have the summer of their lifetime at URJ Camp Kalsman. Spending part of the summer living, playing, learning and praying with other children fosters, among other things, a compelling experience of kehilah, community.
This sense of kehilah — multiplied when children return year after year — is further strengthened by the removal of outside distractions. There is no homework, parental pressure is significantly dissipated, the chaos of the school year disappears. Camp Kalsman becomes not just a special place, it is a special time. Living in a fully Jewish environment, sports, arts, nature, even adventure-based programming take on a Jewish lens and provide campers with the basis for forming Jewish community and identity.
A Shabbat from the rest of the year
Located in Arlington, Camp Kalsman is the Union for Reform Judaism's regional camp. Entering its sixth summer, the camp continues to grow and expand rapidly. Campers come for sessions that range from one to five weeks in length.
Camp Kalsman is successful in large part because campers associate being Jewish with their friends, having fun, and being in a non-stressful environment. Being Jewish becomes the popular norm. One of the most popular times at camp is Shabbat. There is a change in schedule and a general calming sweeps over the camp.
For all of our participants, campers and staff, camp serves as their Shabbat from the rest of the year. Camp Kalsman offers the opportunity to unplug from the wired world. Campers don't use Facebook, Twitter or their cell-phones while at camp. Making a friend at camp requires more than a click of the mouse on a friend request. It requires a personal connection and a personal commitment.
Better than ever
This summer is going to be even better than what our community has come to expect. With a record number of returning campers and staff it is clear that those who have attended Kalsman in the past are excited for this summer. Through a generous grant from the SAMIS Foundation of Seattle the camp is a adding an animal program to this summer's activity options. The program will allow campers and staff to work with domesticated animals such as chickens, goats, rabbits and ducks.
Coupled with our camping, adventure, and teva (nature) programs, all of which are tied together through Jewish values, our program resonates well with those from the Pacific Northwest.
While we are on a record setting pace for registration there is still plenty of space available for all ages at camp this summer.
If you are looking for a fun, inspirational, transformative and amazing summer camp experience I invite you to consider URJ Camp Kalsman. If you have questions or would like to speak to me about camp please don't hesitate to ask. Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe summer! ■
David Berkman is the director of URJ Camp Kalsman.
See our earlier article: Kalsman is 'one of the loveliest' of Jewish camps (09/08/11).
Photos by Herb Levine