I experienced 17 opening days at the camp where I grew up and later worked (and grew up some more!), and each year it had a different meaning to me. As a camper, it meant meeting and reconnecting with new and old lifelong friends, exploring what quickly became my home away from home while I adjusted to a new and then comfortingly familiar place. In Avodah, our leadership development and CIT program, it meant finally being able to give back and be an active participant in the magic that made camp so special to me as a camper. As a staff member, opening day was a chance to relive that excitement and, more importantly, a reminder that working at camp was an opportunity to forever change the lives of the campers I was about to meet.
Two weeks ago and again today, I got to see and be a part of all of that again at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy for the first and second session opening days of their fifth summer! Returning to Sci-Tech for opening day continues to bring back all of the feelings I had as a kid: excitement to meet and reconnect with new and old friends, exhilaration while thinking about what the summer has in store, and elation as I think about what a gift this place has been to the more than 30 TBE community members who have spent the summer there in just 5 short years, whether they're first-time campers, pioneer campers (what Sci-Tech calls campers who have been there since the first summer in 2014), first-time counselors or lead instructors (hi Devon, we miss you!!!).
As one of the Union for Reform Judaism's specialty camps (along with 6 Points Sports Academy and 6 Points Creative Arts Academy), Sci-Tech blends STEM education (through workshops like Robotics, BioZone and Digital Film Production) with traditional camp activities (like cabin bonding, bonfires and ultimate frisbee) with Jewish values (such as kesher/connection, kavod/respect and taglit/discovery). In addition to all of the amazing experiences and opportunities available at a regional camp, Sci-Tech's campers are able to spend their summer building deep, meaningful relationships with other kids who share their interests and passions for science and technology while building their interest and passion for being part of a Jewish community at their new home away from home.
Check out the photos from Sci-Tech's opening days (and the rest of my camp visits) here.
To learn more about URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy or TBE's Jewish Camping Initiative or to join us on our Summer Road Trip, you can always contact me, Leah Finkelman, your friendly local Youth Engagement Specialist and camp lover/expert. Feel free to stop by - if I'm not at my desk, I'm probably off visiting our students at camp. Come join me!
- Leah "I ♡ Jewish Camp" Finkelman