Content Warning: Strong language, homophobic language.
Growing up, I went to day school but I never attended Jewish camp. Instead, I attended a slew of artsy camps where I spent my days tap dancing and oil painting sternly in the woods. I was a serious kid, even back then and two months of sleepaway camp with many of the kids I was already attending school every day with seems just a bit excessive. Working now and playing now, in spaces full of Jews in their 20s and 30s, I attend retreats on summer campgrounds, facilitate countless icebreakers, and eagerly don a matching t-shirt for color war. I feel like in adulthood, I'm finally getting my fill of the Jewish camp experience. But growing up, though I never attended, I heard about jewish camp non stop. The songs and chants and special tunes and dances for prayers, the inside jokes and informal uniforms of layered tank tops, soffee shorts, and sugar shoes (anyone else remember those puffy tempurpedic- like flip flops that looked like pool floats on ou tiny tween feet?!?!) Regardless, reflecting on that space now, as many of us know, Jewish camp serves many purposes. These spaces provide a temporary immersive Jewish educational space for kids that spend most of the year in secular spaces, teach them to pray and appreciate jewish culture, and on the low (but not that low), Jewish sleepaway camp creates spaces for young people to meet, date, and cultivate relationships with other Jews. There are many different kinds of sleepaway camps but one thing they all have in common is providing a space away from the prying eyes of parents for kids to experiment, get weird, and try really really hard to find themselves. Sometimes they succeed. Other times, these spaces and the memories now budding adults hold on to give us fodder for countless awkward, uncomfortable, kooky, and sometimes heartfelt stories to tell into adulthood. Today on Miss Mitzvah, we’re going to be sharing stories from three very different young people on their camp experiences. Stories of Bat Mitzvahs and mean girls, hookups in torah rooms, and true love.
Music and Production by Sophia Lanman
Creative Direction by Zoe Penina Baker and Sophia Lanman.
Special thanks this week to Emily, Alex , and Yakira.
Miss Mitzvah is on view through January 21st at the Museum of Jewish Montreal.