Pure JoyPosted: July 15, 2013
I have been a voyeur on the camp photos and videos where my kids are spending the summer. Ok, not really a voyeur since the camp is putting it out for all of us parents to see, but it feels a little voyeuristic. The camp does a fabulous job at portraying the daily happenings of the kids; there are photos, slideshows and videos.
The thing about these sightings is that everyone is smiling. Either there is excellent editing, or these kids are just happy! I keep thinking about when the kids see a camera; they gather together arm and arm and smile because that is what one does when they see a camera. So, is it really all that fun, or is it the view of the camera?
The videos are showing more unposed fun. There are the moments when the kids stop and scream “WE LOVE CAMP” as if they have been prompted (honestly, I don’t think they have), but for me the best moments are when the camera is just filming life.
A special moment at this camp is Shabbat (the Sabbath). The camp has religious services, a special meal and increased music on Shabbat. I just watched one of the Shabbat videos and could feel the joy emanating from the kids and adults. There is a traditional banging on the tables during some songs and, as my kids have reported to me, the song leaders jump from table to table with their guitars. (I was relieved when my daughter guaranteed that the kids scrub the tables extra hard after this table jumping event). I saw little girls spontaneously breaking into dancing circles in the middle of the dining room while their bunk mates ran over to join the dance. This wasn’t posed, this was fun and ruach (Hebrew for spirit).
Then the therapist in me takes over. Not every kid is happy every single moment; of course not. There is homesickness, bunk drama, kids being excluded and overtired campers and staff. There are bad meals, rainy days and even some boring ‘learning’ time, as I have been told. I am reminded again and again, without some down moments, how could any of us ever truly appreciate pure joy? I am not sure we would experience it as wholly if we didn’t have a yucky day with which to compare it.
At camp though, my gut says that the joy outweighs the yuck. Weeks of sleepovers, constant play dates, cool counselors instead of naggy parents telling you to take a shower. Sports, music, dance and craziness instead of school and homework. Camp has an unfair advantage over the rest of life, how could it not? One very long vacation.
Camp is truly my kids’ favorite place in the world. It’s not that they don’t love their parents and enjoy family time, I know they do, it’s just that camp offers a joy, a pure joy that I have yet to see replicated in any other form.