It is hard to sum up Judaism at Camp Interlaken in just 1 or 2 paragraphs, so to understand it, you have to live it. And, that is what Judaism is all about at Camp – Living It:
At Camp Interlaken, campers of all backgrounds and levels of observance come together to celebrate Jewish life. In our unique community, Jewish living is experienced in everything we do and helps campers feel proud of who they are. Judaism at Camp is accessible, relevant, appropriate, and, most importantly, FUN! It doesn’t matter if your background is secular or observant, our staff work together with our campers to make sure that we are able to meet each participant comfortably at their starting place.
The Camp community begins their day singing Modeh Ani together around our flagpoles after raising the Israeli and American flags, and we end our day singing Shema and Rod Hayom together as an entire community. Camp joins together in Hamotzi before our meals and birkat hamazon at the end of our meals. If you don’t know these songs and prayers, we will teach them to you! Many of our buildings and cabins are called by their Hebrew names, and Hebrew Word of the Day is always acted out and implemented with excitement by our campers who participate in our Improv or Judaism Gone Wild Chugim, activities.
Many of our campers say that Shabbat is their favorite time at Camp. As special and meaningful time, we begin our Shabbat experience by walking through Camp and picking up each and every camper along the way before we form a large circle on our athletic field around the Shabbat candles. After Sharon, one of our Assistant Directors and Camp Bubbe, recites the blessing and lights the Shabbat candles, campers and staff come together at Makom HaLev, place of the heart, and sit together in our beautiful amphitheater that overlooks Lake Finley as we welcome Shabbat with our camper-led Kabbalat Shabbat services. Our Judaic educator works together with groups of campers each week to prepare them to lead services. Our song leaders help welcome Shabbat in the most magical way each week! After services, the campers are welcomed into the Chadar Ochel, dining hall, by our staff to enjoy a festive Shabbat meal followed by the most powerful and ruach filled song session and Israel dancing. On Saturday, we continue celebrating Shabbat with a camper-led Torah service followed by a Kiddush of grape juice and homemade chocolate chip mandel bread. The day is very relaxed as many Camp activities are not offered on Shabbat like waterskiing, arts, and high ropes. Campers can select from a list of sports, waterfront, and group activities to enhance their Shabbat. Each cabin focuses on having a z’man tov, a good time, during a sicha, discussion, time where they discuss and learn about a Jewish focused topic together. Shabbat ends with a magnificent Havdallah service on Saturday evening as all of Camp gathers together lakeside, illuminated only by the Havdallah candle, to sing together while they smell the spices, drink the wine (grape juice), and wish each other a Shavua Tov, a good week. To view a Camp Interlaken Havdallah, visit our Facebook page to watch our Facebook Live Havdallah from the summer of 2017: https://www.facebook.com/interlakenjcc/
To both educate our campers and staff and accommodate Jewish families of all different background, Camp Interlaken has 3 kosher kitchens (meat, dairy and pareve) that follow the laws of and accepts hekhsher, kosher symbols, from the conservative movement. A list of approved hekhshers and Interlaken’s Kashrut policy can be found by clicking here.
Camp is based on four core Jewish values that are woven into all aspects of daily camp life:
- Kehillah – Community
- B’tselem Elohim – Being created in g-d’s image
- Tikkun Olam – Repairing the world
- Eretz Yisrael – Love for the land of Israel
As a Jewish experience, camp often means the difference between leading an adult Jewish life and leading a life of indifference. Through studies, surveys, and experience, we’ve learned that Camp Works, and you can read the findings here from the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s CAMP WORKS: The Long-term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp Study from 2011.