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Camp is messy. When it rains, kids splash through deep puddles and mud. At arts and crafts, they get covered in paint, clay and glue. But that messiness is a beautiful, and intentional, part of camp. That’s right: messiness is one of the many details we actually think about year-round — the sort of subtle details that can make all the difference. Because when kids arrive at summer camp, often tightly wound after a long and over-programmed school year, encountering messiness is a refreshing way of exploring and learning. For example:

  1. Most campers are tasked with the messy work of cleaning their bunks. Picture it: Dust is flying, there’s too much soap, several kids are crowding into the same bathroom with mops and sponges in hand. At the same time, campers are learning to take turns, how to live and work together with others — not to mention, how to scrub a toilet.
  2. Many camps have rough-hewn benches in the woods or by a lake for kids to sit and worship, meditate or reflect. These plain wooden planks are a far cry from the neat seating found in a traditional synagogue. But they allow kids to realize that nature — along with its insects, breeze, and the smell of pine — is beautiful and holy, and that Jews can come together anywhere to form an amazing community.
  3. Many camps embrace disorder to encourage creative exploration. During omanut (art), campers are “allowed” to make messes that turn into projects they are proud to take home, in the process learning and growing real skills like sewing or print-making. Other campers make a grand mess while learning to make salves, potions and tinctures with plants and weeds while learning about medicinal and healing plants. There’s even creative disorder at our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) camp, where kids run around like crazy playing laser tag while working on a tech “assignment.”
  4. Even the camp that lets kids “randomly” choose their bed when they arrive — a small but significant decision — has put a lot of thought into the exercise. Unbeknownst to the campers, they are choosing from a pre-determined pool, because those with certain needs (bottom bunk, near a bathroom, or near a counselor) have been pre-assigned. But by imposing their own order on the “mess,” campers learn decision-making.

In all of these camps, through casual games and random projects that can appear to have no rhyme or reason other than “have fun,” the staff is carefully imparting Jewish values along a set and well-considered curriculum.

If you want your child to experience the glorious mess of a summer spent out in nature, phone-free, while immersed in Jewish culture and making lifelong friends, contact me, Camp Concierge Sharon Bromberg, to help you find the best camp for your family and child: sbromberg@jewishphilly.org or 215.554.4739. Can’t wait to hear from you!