At camp, nearly every moment of the day is scripted – for safety; for building community; for ensuring kids have the kind of tried-new-things, no-time-to-be-bored, home-away-from-home experience camp is meant to be. Even “free time” has its boundaries: You can be here, not here; if you haven’t straightened up your bunk or written a letter home or (younger boys, especially) had a shower in two days – now’s your chance, get it done.
But when Shabbat rolls around, the schedule goes out the window and an entire afternoon assumes the amorphous form of endless summer.
A white board in the dining hall fills with possibilities. Some are conventional – your standard basketball, lanyard making, nature hike. Some push the envelope – canoe racing, pyramid making, found object rock band. Still others are truly inspired – magic wand making in the kitchen may be my all-time favorite.
Yet, not everything is up for grabs. At the top of the board reads this seemingly oxymoronic heading:
Choose what you like from the list, but you must choose something. Doing nothing is not an option. Now go forth, on your own (in community), and explore!
4 thoughts on “Free will.”
That’s what my daughter loved about Camp Coleman. Doing something was mandatory, but doing nothing was not. This was her first year at camp and her reaction was -” I felt like this was my home all along.” The experience and friends she made will last a lifetime. Thank you for starting this blog.
Thank you, Risa – and I’m so glad your daughter had such a great experience.
“Doing nothing is not an option” is an excellent lesson. And yet….Who decides what counts as nothing? How many times do I hear “nothing” in answer to the question (to teenagers) “what are you doing?” And their nothing really means “I do not really want to tell you.” But often they might well be doing a something that is a little bit of nothing. So how much Instagram equals nothing? Or even how many novels? (And adults are as prone to this as teens!) The camp version of “mandatory optionals” has those excellent counselors offering opportunities and activities. But in life we have to just figure out how to find those optionals. And make those optionals not just some version of nothing! Thought provoking.
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As people move through life trying to find themselves or wondering what they should be when they grow up, life is wasted Waiting for Godot. Do SOMETHING, Do ANYTHING. Camp is a wonderful place to begin teaching this lesson. Well done Camp Coleman.
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