Girls Director Rebbetzin Leah Davidowitz came up with yet another fantastic theme for this year’s summer camp. Called “Ach Tov”, it is based on the verse, “May only goodness (ach tov) and kindness pursue me all the days of my life…” (Ps. 23:6).
Commentaries note that the word “pursue” is odd in this context since it has a negative connotation. They explain that King David, who himself was pursued his entire life by enemies, intended to teach us that since everything comes from God, a person must view even the troubles that pursue him as good.
The question is, are we to see the bad as actually being good – “ach tov” – only good; or rather to see the bad for what it is – “ach” (painful), but serving a constructive purpose – “tov” (good)? This challenge was posed to the children, who, in traditional color war fashion in two groups of pink and yellow, battled over the question through a variety of educational and recreational activities and excursions which enabled each to search for and find the right answer for herself.
Of course, for children who have suffered so much in life, facing this issue and learning how to cope with pain in a constructive way is of major importance to Keren Hayeled’s mission of ensuring that these disadvantaged children grow up to become healthy and stable adults who contribute positively to society, building the loving and nurturing Jewish homes for their children which they never had themselves.
For example, two tools or themes that were incorporated into the program were “to see the world through rose-colored (actually, either pink or yellow colored) glasses”, and “to see the points of light which shine even within the darkness”. The importance of proper perspective in traversing troubled times was emphasized by looking at life through various lenses. And the importance of finding good in suffering was illustrated by a game of hide-and-seek in the dark with flashlights shining upon a friend found where least expected.
Similarly, the value of finding creative ways to pick oneself up when in the blues was celebrated in the context of a gala costume party in which all the children designed their own costumes and had lots of fun.
The children also conducted a fair, which simultaneously served as an opportunity for each side to “sell” its side of the coin.
What would camp be without boating? Here we floated the idea that life is like a river that one navigates through various stokes, sometimes from one direction, sometimes from another. Note the dually colored paddles – one side pink, the other yellow.
While hiking, the children also explored the idea of clearly marked trails blazed by those who know their way through the forest, just as Torah teachings direct one on the right paths through the thicket of life.
Camping overnight is a favorite past time. But a good campsite is chosen during daylight with foresight of a useful campfire to provide warmth and light through the night. Similarly, one must “stake his tent” in Torah, knowing that its “light” will provide protection and illumination through dark and troubled times.
Even the amusement park, with its challenging climbs, trampolines, and various adventure rides provided ample ground for discussing how to negotiate the challenges of life, its ups and downs, and how to get the most out of the “ride”.
It should be clear from all this, that Keren Hayeled is not just a loving home for unfortunate children. It is also a guiding force in their lives with a vision to help them build themselves and succeed in life where there would otherwise be failure. But all of this requires great resources. Please partner with us to support this camp which was not only fabulous fun but also uniquely educational and empowering.