The Sweetest Shabbat
August 2, 2019 was the last time Shabbat was celebrated at Camp Chi with our camp family. In the nearly 700 days since that Shabbat celebration, so much has changed, both in camp and in the world. It goes without saying how the COVID pandemic impacted the world in so many different ways. There have been positive changes as well. Here at camp, we have a brand-new state of the art Health Center, an expanded cove, renovated tennis courts alongside new pickleball courts, and so much more. Yet today, none of that matters. Today, the camp community will gather and welcome Shabbat with beautiful services, a delicious dinner and a song session for the ages. It doesn’t matter where you are, chances are with the energy and spirit built up over the past 700+ days, you will hear and feel the Shabbat energy from Chi.
Shabbat at Camp Chi is something quite surreal. The day just suddenly stops and the entire camp shifts into Shabbat mode. We’ll be doing things differently this year to keep everyone safe and distanced. Instead of gathering in the Israeli Village for Shuk, the schlichim (Israeli staff) are bringing shuk to each village, with music, games, snacks and more. Dinner and services will be split to maximize outdoor seating space for dinner. Services will be held on the athletic field, where cabins and villages can spread out more. Yet, no one will notice or complain about these tweaks because for the first time in almost 23 months, it will be Shabbat at Camp Chi.
That has been a theme of our first week. Yes- things are different. We are only doing cabin times right now, and we are masked when indoors and interacting with other cabins and villages. But, nothing has helped us enjoy camp more than the recent pandemic. While the world outside is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19, camp is strangely and wonderfully normal and calm. Staff are working incredibly hard to provide an unforgettable and “regular” camp experience for their campers, and campers are just loving being at camp. No one seems to mind the masks or schedule changes, as both campers and staff are just happy to be at camp after last year’s cancelled summer. The laughter we hear and smiles we see each day have more than validated the efforts we’ve put forth into making this summer happen.
So as we prepare for and then welcome the first Shabbat at Camp Chi since August 2, 2019, we know that things will be a little bumpy, and will look different. And we also know that no one will be bothered as they are just happy to be celebrating Shabbat at Camp Chi. Shabbat Shalom.