This story, shared with us by Camp Co-Director Stephanie Feldman, has a powerful message that resonates with all of us who know that JCC Day Camp is a very special place.
The story is told of a child who lived in the city near a forest. Almost daily, the young boy ventured off into the woods by himself. His father did not want to interfere with his son’s daily excursions, but he was concerned because he knew that forests could be dangerous.
One day the father pulled his son aside. “I notice that every day you go off into the forest,” he said. “I don’t want to forbid you to go there, but I want you to know I’m concerned about your safety. Why is it that you go there, and what is it that you do?”
“I go into the forest to find G-d,” was the boy’s simple response.
His father was deeply moved. “That’s beautiful,” he said. “And I’m pleased to hear you’re doing that. But don’t you know? G-d is the same everywhere.”
“G-d is,” the boy answered, “but I’m not.”
This story speaks powerfully of the idea that we often need to find a place, situation, or environment for self-transformation to occur within us.
At our summer camp, we strive to create just such an environment. From the moment children arrive at our camp, we want them to feel a sense of warmth and welcome. We seek to foster an environment where children are valued, respected, and included so they feel confident someone will listen. Moreover, we strive to establish and maintain positive interactions between our children and counselors that are characterized by respect, a non-judgmental attitude, and open communication.
Our 100-acre campground nestled in the Greenbelt is also a place where “city” children connect with our natural world. Lush green trees, the presence of animals, hiking trails and ponds are part of our campground’s natural beauty. Additionally, we offer weekly animal appreciation shows from animal lover Brian Wild and ongoing nature activities that connect the children to nature. We know that, especially after these challenging months of staying inside and social distancing, children will be eager to get outside and experience nature with their friends.
In short, like the forest in the story, our camp is a place where we connect with ourselves, one another, and our natural world.