“Two camps, one site.” These aren’t just words our campers chant during song session, they are a mantra for the unified relationship we share at Eisner and Crane Lake. We may have slightly different traditions, but we are one big camp family. At Eisner, we teach our campers to Be the One, and at Crane Lake we focus on fostering a Culture of Kindness, but regardless of the specific taglines, we have one joint mission: Hineini, I Am Here.
More importantly, at both camps, we emphasize how critical it is to take the lessons and values we learn at camp and bring them home. As we say at Crane Lake, “Build it, live it, bring it home.” But how do we bring our Jewish values and culture of kindness out into the world? How do we Be the One outside our camp bubbles?
This past Friday, we set out to find the answer. After months of planning and anticipation, we held our first ever Make a Difference Day. Every camper and staff member at Eisner and Crane Lake participated in different volunteer projects, both on camp and in our surrounding communities, as we dedicated the day to living the value of Tikkun Olam, repairing our world.
As Eisner Director of Jewish Education Wendy Grinberg said, “Our smallest campers made a BIG difference!” At Eisner, our K’tanim through Chalutzim campers worked on our camp gardens and library, made challah and challah covers, wrote to our senators, and made decorations that will be donated to the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires. At Crane Lake, our Nitzanim and Lower Bonim campers learned about music and Tikkun Olam, made Rosh Hashanah bags and challah for homebound Jewish seniors, and created lanterns for the Fairview Hospital.
Eisner and Crane Lake united together in Albany, as both camps’ two oldest units spent the morning with lay and political leaders, learning about advocacy and organizing. Our campers met with New York state representatives, members of the Reform Jewish Voice of New York, Jonah Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Our campers celebrated the day by joining together in Eisner’s original song Stand Up, written with Alan Goodis, and Crane Lake’s Generosity, written with Noam Katz.
Our Ofarim and Chaverim campers from Eisner also volunteered at Hevreh of Southern Berkshires; Construct, a Great Barrington-based housing organization; Riverbrook Residence, a local organization that works with women with intellectual and developmental disabilities; the Claire Teague Senior Center; the Naumkeag estate, where campers helped with gardening; and the Railroad Street Youth Project, where we painted murals for their skate park.
At Crane Lake, our Upper Bonim and Lower Chaverim campers volunteered at the Patroon Land Farm, which is connected to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and the Hancock Shaker Village, where campers learned about Shakers and helped in the gardens.
From Albany to our campgrounds, we are so proud of the commitment and heart our campers and staff demonstrated on Friday. We took the values of Hineini to a whole new level!
On Friday, we lived our mission statement out loud as one, showing the power of social action, advocacy, and community. To see the work and passion of our campers and staff, check out this amazing video below. We’re so excited to see what our campers accomplish when they leave our respective camp bubbles and return home next weekend!