For over 85 years, Camp Laurelwood — Connecticut’s only Jewish overnight camp — has worked to build a kinder world that is reflected through a strong and vibrant Jewish community. How do we do that? Among other things, each week we bring our campers together for a Shabbat rich in Jewish law and tradition.
First, campers and staff dress in white to usher in the Sabbath on Friday nights with services, Kiddush, candle-lighting, and blessing over the challah. A traditional Shabbat meal (including matzoh ball soup!) is a highlight of the week and is followed with singing. We continue our Shabbat celebration on Saturdays with a late wake-up time, a special breakfast, services, wellness and afternoon activities of the campers’ choice, and a beautiful Havdalah under a star-filled sky.
Shabbat at Laurelwood is just one more example of how our camp is guided by a set of core Jewish values. We focus on one value/theme every week, and we integrate that value/theme into our programming and activities over Shabbat. The themes may include: Building Community, Inspiring a Connection to the Jewish People, From Generation to Generation, Promoting a Healthy Spirit in a Healthy Body, Bestowing Kindness
On Shabbat, two of our rising 10th grade Bonim campers are chosen to deliver a D’var Torah to our camp community, reflecting the value/theme for that week. One week, different campers and staff gave the following D’var Torahs to our camp community reflecting on the value/theme ‘From Generation to Generation.’
We are proud to share the D'var Torah of two campers, Jenna and Zoe, who impressed the entire camp community.
“Shabbat Shalom Camp Laurelwood!
My name is Jenna Barr. And my name is Zoe Dvorin.
“When I first found out that this week's theme was generation to generation, I immediately thought of myself being the 4th generation of my family to come to Camp Laurelwood. My great grandmother was a counselor, and was followed by my Grandma who also became a counselor. My mom, aunt, and my sister all came to camp as campers. Hearing my family's memories and being able to experience my own memories is very sentimental to me. My name being up in the mess hall on a plaque, alongside my aunt's name shows how Camp Laurelwood traditions remain constant throughout the generations.
“Unlike Jenna, my [Zoe’s] family’s camp journey began with me, back in 2017. Now seven years later both my brother and sister have gained an immense amount of love for this camp, as it is now something that bonds my siblings and I. So, although we are the first generation to be campers, traditions and memories have been passed down to us through an older generation of campers and counselors. Generation to generation doesn’t always mean family. In my final year as a camper, looking down at camp was a very special experience, as over my time here I have been able to watch the youngest campers grow up from the starting point that I once was at.
“For me, generation to generation is important at camp because families are able to share, and bond over Camp Laurelwood’s traditions.
“And for me, generation to generation is important, as we are introduced to traditions by those older than us, and we get to pass it on and continue the cycle within our community.”