Nov 17, 2020

Posted by: Emily Reilly

Hope is a Radical Act

It seems safe to say that the past nine months have been nothing like we imagined when we started 2020. We have adopted new buzzwords… unprecedented, pivoting, uncertain times. Our work and school vernacular now include phrases like  “Can you see my screen?” or “You’re muted, we can’t hear you”.  We have completely reimagined ways to live our day-to-day lives. Some of these adjustments are convenient, like doing curbside pickup instead of shopping in the store. But, a lot of these adjustments cause hardship because we’re more isolated and we are learning and working in a way that limits real life connection.

So, how do we do it? What has sustained us through these “unprecedented times” so far?

We all have our different motivators. One consistent motivator that we have seen as we’ve talked with families, campers, and our summer staff is hope. We have been sustained by hope. Hope that we will make it through this time. Hope that what we are doing is enough to keep ourselves and others safe. Hope that the world we are re-building is better than the world we left behind. Hope that camp will look and feel as normal as possible beyond this.

In October, the Ranch Camp team had the opportunity to attend the virtual JCamp180 Conference. It gave us a chance to connect with peers in the field, learn about and build best practices for running camp during a pandemic, and to reignite our spark as we dive into Summer 2021. During one of the sessions, a presenter touched on the same thing we had been seeing in our Ranch Camp world, hope. He said, “Hope is a radical act.”

That was it… “Hope is a radical act.” It so perfectly encapsulates how these nine months have felt. After a quick google search during the session, we found the whole quote that this presenter was referencing…

“Sometimes hope is a radical act, sometimes a quietly merciful response, sometimes a second wind, or just an increased awareness of goodness and beauty. Maybe you didn’t get what you prayed for, but what you got instead was waking to the momentousness of life, the power of loving hearts.”

– Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott, an American novelist, is certainly on to something. It is almost as if her take on hope was written for this time. I think most of us could agree that this year isn’t quite what we prayed for. Sitting with and thinking about this quote since the conference, we have realized that hope as a radical act is intrinsically Jewish. In Judaism hope is often the sustainer and the driver.

We see it in our camp middot (values).  One of our most important middot at camp is Shomrei Ha’Adamah, being Guardians of the Earth. Each summer we work with our campers to learn how to take care of the world and make it a better place for everyone. We hope the work we are doing is making difference and the hope that it is making a difference is also what motivates us to keep doing it.

Hope might be sustaining us right now, but is so radical in this time. In the middle of pandemic, it is an active choice each day to continue our hard work and wake our eyes to “the momentousness of life [and] the power of loving hearts.” Our Ranch Camp community makes this easy though. You have shared your hearts and your hope with us and each other. You have given us your trust in preparing for next summer working to make it equal parts safe and magical for your campers. We don’t take your hope lightly. It is sacred to us. It is truly our sustainer and our driver as we work towards next summer. Thank you for being our partners. We are so excited for Summer 2021, which will be the BEST. SUMMER. EVER.



Carly, Ryan, and Noah