Jun 14, 2019

Posted by: Emily Reilly

Shabbat Shalom, Ranch Camp!

Session 1, Day 4
June 14th, 2019

The Torah is obsessed with rules. Particularly (and fittingly) the book of Numbers, from which we are currently reading.  Many of the rules and the stories that contain them depict or delineate standards for the community of Israelites and standards for communities in general.

When we begin our staff orientation week, I share with participants that we have this amazing and unique opportunity to create an ideal community. If we can succeed in doing that for ourselves in the week we have before our campers arrive, the community we build with campers will be a reflection of that which we were able to create among ourselves.

We call the week “orientation” rather than “training” because, although there are elements that constitute training, the week is about shifting our perspective. The majority of our bunk staff are college students. It is practically their job to focus on themselves and their needs. We re-orient our perspective to put the needs of others before our own and make this a potentially life-altering experience for our campers.

We spend a good part of the week learning how to successfully communicate in this unique environment. We pay particular attention to how we resolve conflicts among ourselves. This includes addressing the conflict with the person, directly. We call this “picking a door.” If you come to me to tell me how someone has wronged you, I will tell you to “pick a door” with that person. We avoid accusatory language, and focus instead on the particular circumstances and how this made us feel.

At the core of our ability to create a successful community is assumption of goodwill. If we stop assuming goodwill and believe the other intended to hurt us or willfully sabotage us, this will color our interactions with that person and potentially poison our communal well. It takes a certain willingness to be vulnerable, but it is absolutely critical to the success of our experience here. When we do this, we find proof of what most of us believe to be true: Most of us do not seek to deceive, hurt, or sabotage. We are kind and seek kindness.

Very shortly, we will come together as a community to welcome Shabbat. We will do so as one Ranch Camp Community that takes care of each other. We will remind one another that we are kind and seek kindness. We will experience the joy of others as our own, and we will have a restful Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,