All About Project Barak!

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barak campers and faculty

One of the greatest privileges I have as a Rabbi is the opportunity to go up to Camp George for a week each summer and be a kid again.  Its something I look forward to, being out in nature, participating in the many activities and doing some teaching with the campers in a non-traditional environment.  I think for campers to see their Rabbis, Cantors and educators swimming in the lake, paddling a canoe or walking the nature trail gives them a different perspective on Jewish leaders and allows us to engage in informal conversations about all sorts of topics, some planned and some unplanned.  Earlier this week I was doing a program with a Kochavim cabin of 12–13-year-olds about inclusivity and teamwork.  Its part of a summer long focus on Jewish values.  As our one-hour program came to an end, it started to pour outside so we stayed inside and one of the staff asked me about God.  Suddenly the cabin was engaged in a pretty deep discussion about spirituality as thunder and lighting struck outside. 

Another program I have been involved in is called Project Barak.  This is with the oldest camper unit, the 14–15-year-olds.  Each of the faculty take a group and work on a project for three sessions throughout the week.  Educator Lisa Isen Baumal from Holy Blossom is working with her group on making modern midrash from so of our favorite classic torah characters culminating in a beit café story slam with snacks and drinks.  Educator Steve Greenwood is having his group build wooden bird feeders to set up around camp.  Educator Dora Anne Cohen Ellison from Anshe Sholom is beautifying the beit tefilla which is in need of some paint and decorations.  My group is focused on nature appreciation.  We hiked a new nature trail in the woods, we took a canoe ride down a narrow creek, hearing stories, taking in the beauty of our surroundings.  Each time I meet with the group I get a chance to take them out of the ordinary to appreciate the extraordinary. How lucky these campers and staff are to be away from our regular lives to enjoy the weather, be outside, away from tech and daily pressures to relax, breathe and engage fully in the present. 

Written by: Rabbi Stephen Wise, Congregation Shaarei Beth-El Oakville, On