Feb 16, 2022

Posted by: Hoffman

 Looking for Light Keepers

My days in February look very different than my days during summer. Instead of anticipating the excitement of Gold Rush or bodying quesadillas on Fridays at lunch, I wait for the “Your next interviewee has entered the waiting room” Zoom notification. While I love building our summer team, I’ve missed the sweet Elbert breeze that carries in the magic of summer. Ironically, one of the questions I get asked the most during interviews is some variation of “what makes Ranch Camp special?”; “why do you keep coming back to Ranch Camp?”; and “what is your favorite part of Ranch Camp?” It’s a seemingly simple question to answer, but being asked so frequently caused some deeper reflection into my answers. 

When answering the why Ranch Camp question, I’ve typically lauded the incredible people that camp brings together or praised our values-based approach to Judaism, but there’s been something deeper that I haven’t been able to put into words until recently. To my surprise, I’ve found the words for these ideas through Torah study. I’ve never really been excited to dive into Torah study, and haven’t really explored any parashat deeply since my Bat Mitzvah. But, I’ve looked back into the scrolls recently to curate some of Ranch Camp’s Shabbat social media content.  

This week’s parasha, T’tzaveh, Exodus 27:20−30:10, is about the ner tamid, the “eternal light,” that traditionally hangs in front of the sanctuary, always stays illuminated, and is protected by a dedicated team to ensure its eternality. Traditionally, the ner tamid was an oil-burning lamp whose light is not diminished or affected when another flame is lit from it. While the ner tamid carries its own air of mystery as an eternal guiding and sacred light, I connected to it in a more metaphorical way. The idea that the ner tamid symbolizes a guiding force of joy and hope and goodness struck me. That same light can be spread and shared from one person to another without the risk of being extinguished, but can also be nourished and supported by others’ lights.  

For me, Ranch Camp will forever be a place that nourishes my light; grounding me in support, providing me with connection, and illuminating my strength.  To be a little bit sappy, I’ve found light in every person that comes through the rickety camp gate and in turn, I’ve felt my light grow. I see myself as a steward or keeper of the light for our campers at camp. Camp creates a space where everyone can discover and light their internal ner tamid and it’s my responsibility to make sure that opportunity is never extinguished. So, in building our staff team this summer, I can not only say that I choose Ranch Camp because it sparks my light and is my eternal guide, but I can also say that I’m looking for light keepers who will ignite the light, the ner tamid, in others. 

With love and light,