Celebrating the Chesed of Week 1
At camp we all live in one big kehillah or community. We eat our meals together and do our activities together, all in shared communal living spaces. In order for our kehillah to be successful, everyone must buy in to the same rules and values. That’s what sets camp apart from other communities, our shared values, and how easy it is to find them day in and day out.
There are three core values of Camp Chi: kehillah which is the community is created and supported by the other two: kavod (respect) and chesed (kindness). In our first week of camp we have seen countless acts of chesed and want to begin Shabbat by recognizing these moments and highlighting them for our kehillah both at camp and not.
Chesed can be broken down into a few different subcategories. Not only does kindness mean being kind to others, but also to yourself and to the area around you as well. While some of these may be separate values and mitzvot, they can all fit under the umbrella of chesed.
Chesed for others
This week has been a lot about bonding with cabinmates, staff, etc. For our new campers that can be quite a daunting task. However, our camp veterans have really stepped it up this week, welcoming the first timers to Chi, showing them the ropes, and helping them navigate our campus. Multiple times throughout the week, we saw veteran campers walk rookies to their specialties, not because a counselor asked them to, but because they wanted to help the newcomers feel comfortable and find their way.
This kindness for others goes beyond making sure no one gets lost. From the moment we got to the cabins, last Sunday, chesed was in the air. Campers helped each other make their beds, unpack their belongings and get settled into their new summer homes. And it continued at cabin times and specialties too. In Ropes Ninja Warrior, the two competing teams were cheering each other on the whole time, encouraging everyone to complete the obstacle and conquer the course. This kindness for those around you is what brings the community together.
Chesed for oneself
Possibly the hardest to see if the kindness directed at yourself. But this has to do with giving it your all in everything you do. This time, it’s the new campers who get highlighted. These campers made the choice to take a leap into a new environment and join the Camp Chi Family. Some come to camp knowing many, and some knowing no one, but they all end this week part of our kehillah, our Camp Chi Family. They took the risk to meet new people, sleep in a new place, eat new food, and try new activities. That’s a lot of eggs in one basket, but they did it. And it has paid off. New friendships have formed, and memories are being made throughout the day. In activities, campers and staff alike are putting their best efforts forth and that’s setting our programs up for immense success.
Chesed for the area around you
Kindness for the environment around you is a huge part of camp. Not only do we have daily cabin cleanup time, but we have really stressed the importance of keeping camp clean in a more global sense, looking outside the cabin. One notorious time for messes is after meals in the picnic grove. Historically, the Wednesday night BBQ is followed by one village volunteering to help clean up after everyone else. Not this year though. While not spotless, the picnic grove was the cleanest it has been in years following the cookout this week. The trend continues in areas like the art center, where campers are actively participating in the cleanup and organization of materials. One of the most unique areas is horseback riding though. While not terribly supply heavy, the supplies, or horses, are physically quite heavy and take a lot to maintain. The campers have been active parts of this, helping groom and feed the horses, while also welcoming them to our community and trying to help them get used to their summer home as well. The trend continues to the villages and throughout camp, where we have seen less trash and litter than any summer in recent history.
This trifecta of chesed is what has made our first week so successful. We will carry this kindness into the first Shabbat and will celebrate a day of not only rest but a day of chesed. And as we begin week 2, we will not lose sight of the chesed we have displayed, but will add to it and amplify it. To make this a summer where our values are not just lived but celebrated each and every day.