It Takes 10 to Make 1: The Power of Kehillah
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. It takes a lot to make the big cohesive kehillah. In fact it takes many kehillot.
Camp Chi is made up of 10 villages- Garinim, Yeladim, Kadima, Shoreshim, Tsofim, Chalutzim, Habonim, Noar, Avodah, and SIT. Each of those villages has a unique identity, theme, and experience. We work hard to ensure that while the activities may be similar year to year, the experience is different each summer as you grow and progress through your years at Chi. We do that with our village structure.
Each village is made up of campers and staff and is run by a Village Leader. The Village Leaders and staff of the village spend hours and hours planning programs and plotting out the experience they want to provide for their campers. This week we have played a lot of different games that helped us get to know one another. Villages have done different activities that have bonded them from a gathering of individuals into a cohesive group. And discussions have been had about what it means to be part of each community or kehillah they are part of- from a cabin to the village to the whole camp.
Throughout the week we have had programs like Capture the Counselor, where you try to find the staff all over camp and use teamwork to collect them. We’ve also had Scavenger Hunts where cabins, complete with staff, traveled all over camp to find certain items or people and/or take a certain photo. We’ve also had some messy program where you get to decorate the village staff by getting to know them and answering questions about them to earn decorations. Each of these three first-week programs is a ton of fun, but it’s more than just fun we are after. In each of these programs are moments that bond us together and themes that form a motif. Maybe that scavenger hunt was themed to superheroes or to a safari. Those small tweaks are what help instill the identity into the village.
Last Sunday we gathered in the amphitheatre for Homecoming. While there we laughed and were wowed by a magician, sang songs with our song leaders, met the staff of camp, and rocked out to the song of the summer. The most impactful part of that program though was the end. To culminate the program, each village follows their village leader, carrying a large flaming torch, to a village bonfire. And while each discussion and bonfire is run differently based on the age and development of the campers, the content is the same- welcome home. The flame we use on this night is representative of the flame that is burning within each of us and that we use to light the CHI on the last night of camp at Chi Burning. This flame is what we talk about all year long when we say Keep the Flame Burning.
Last Sunday we gathered as 10 groups. We had begun getting to know one another and forming our villages. Tonight, we will gather again, this time for Shabbat. And now we will gather not as 10 groups, or as 10 kehillot. Instead we will gather as one kehillah, one camp, and one mishpachah (family).