Each summer, as we approach the final week of camp, my administration and I put a lot of thought and time discussing how to appropriately cap off a summer. After all, an experience as transformative and important as summer camp deserves a conclusion reflective of that. Similarly, we ask ourselves what we’d like to share with the entire Morasha community in this annual ‘Final Thoughts’ e-mail, as we officially say goodbye to Summer 2016.
The obvious (and perhaps easiest) metric that we might be naturally inclined to point to and celebrate would be our historic registration numbers, for the fifth straight summer. While this is something we are proud of, we don’t believe this could be or should ever be our focus. I remind my staff every day — this is about each and every individual camper. Whether we have 100 campers or 1,000, our mission is to ensure that every Morasha camper comes home with stronger, clearer, and more committed Jewish values than the day her or she arrived. While this metric might not be as neatly presentable on a spreadsheet or chart, it is certainly the more important fundamental goal. And, after a truly incredible summer, we have so much to proud of.
If any parent, friend, or alumnus had the opportunity to watch any of our live-stream events last week, they would have felt something intrinsically real. Viewers understood that what they were watching was not only fun and entertaining, but incredibly powerful. They saw children, of all ages, alive. No editing. No effects. Connecting to their Jewish identities, and to their camp family, in a sincerely real way. We like to say that in school, campers learn about their Judaism. In camp, campers not only learn it — but live it.
As the final lights are shut, bunks are locked, and boats are stored, I’d like to take this moment to thank you for your support and reflect on what was another historic and proud summer for Morasha. Our campers had the opportunity to pray, perform, and play under the guidance of a caring and professional staff, who serve as role models — no matter what position they hold. Our staff of 261 was hired from an astounding pool of 603 staff applications. We created a safer camp environment with a stunning state-of-the-art Health Center and more counselors assigned to our youngest bunks. We designed a program and daily schedule so that every moment of every day would offer a fun and positive experience for our children — on the courts and fields, lake and pool, arts studio and music studio, and on our stage. And, most importantly, our steadfast commitment to Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael was seamlessly integrated and delicately balanced through every aspect of camp. We couldn’t be prouder of our campers and staff.
At the same time, we know that we always have room to improve. Like we do every year, we will be evaluating all camp policies and will be specifically focused on re-examining areas that we feel require real thought: (1) Camper calls home (2) Food/nosh/meat brought to camp (3) Bed assignments and bunkbeds (4) Early departures. A separate e-mail will go out seeking input from our camp parents prior to designing new policies. I also will be starting a process on the formation of regional Morasha Parent Councils, to give parents an opportunity to share insights, feedback, and suggestions on how to make camp even better.
We do appreciate the positive e-mails and inquiries about next summer. Camper applications for Summer 2017 will be available online on 9/9. Staff applications are released on Thanksgiving. Until then, please enjoy the photos and videos online (with many more videos to be uploaded over the next week!).
On the last day of camp, we reminded everyone in the Mercazia that campers may leave camp but camp will never leave them. We look forward to staying in touch throughout the year and can’t wait to see everyone at the reunion. Until then — let’s continue living 10 for 2.