The Ruach of Camp Chi
When you think of Camp Chi certain words come to mind. Friendship. Summer. Values. Specialties. Ruach. Ruach (spirit) is something that everyone brings to camp. This week we’ve had plenty of ruach demonstrated, with Habo Day, Noar Day and the annual football game, not to mention the Fourth of July Color Wars. But what is ruach and how does one show it?
Contrary to popular belief, ruach is more than being loud and in your face. Yesterday, the whole camp gathered at the amphitheatre to celebrate the Fourth of July and each team deafened the others with their cheers and screams. Who was loudest? Red? White? Blue? Does it matter? Is the loudest team the one with the most ruach? Earlier this week, Noar had their annual football game. Campers that opted not to toss the pigskin around could choose to be cheerleaders instead. Are they the ones responsible for bringing the ruach? Habo Day is an annual color war tradition for our 8th grade village. When it happened earlier this week, each team tried to be louder than the others, whether it was the hamotzi, birkat, or cheer off. On the flip side, during lunch they sat silently, chewing slowly as to not make a peep during silent lunch. So why is volume linked to ruach?
Ruach translates to soul and spirit. We have campers of all personalities and types at camp. Some that are boisterous and some that are not. Some that are exuberant and some more timid. So, if the decibel level correlates to ruach, the campers on the quieter side must have less ruach. However, that isn’t true, not in the lest. Each and every camper and staff member bring their own ruach to each situation. For some campers, showing your ruach may mean screaming and shouting. But for others, ruach is displayed by being a helper or working hard. Each person brings their ruach individually which we combine and make into the ruach of Camp Chi. We are proud of our camp, and its 98-year history. We are proud of the quality of our specialties and the care we provide for our campers. But none of that is the ruach of Camp Chi. Maybe a contributing factor, but not the heart of our ruach. The ruach is the flame which we work to keep burning all year in each and every camper and staff member. The ruach is best displayed when a camper stands up for our core values of kavod (respect), chesed (kindness) and kehillah (community).
The ruach of Camp Chi may be the same as the Camp Chi Magic- the spirit of camp. It isn’t tangible, but it is felt. It is what we experience each week with Shabbat and Havdalah, as we sit in the amphitheatre together, not screaming and shouting to show who can be loudest but swaying and singing together as a camp. Our ruach is what holds everything else together, the binder of the other values, because each individual is needed to have the full ruach. We only come together as a camp a few times each summer, making Shabbat one of the times our ruach can be fully demonstrated. So with that in mind, we saw Shabbat Shalom for the last time this session. We are going to savor this Shabbat, as we see all the things we have written about each week- chesed, ometz lev, and now ruach.
Shabbat Shalom, Camp Chi.