Rising to the Challenge | Camp Ramah Northern California

Rising to the Challenge

by Ariella Gutin, Director of Camper Care

During the past week we have come together with friends and family, both near and far, to remember and celebrate the story of our exodus from Egypt. Whether your seder was in person or shared over zoom with family and friends, Pesach is a holiday where we come together and reflect on our history as a Jewish people. As part of our seder this year we have continued to reflect on the events of the past year and how in many ways they have made us more resilient as a people and as a greater community. 

This weekend, on the 7th day of Pesach we read the story of the splitting of the Red sea. Throughout the holiday we have retold the story of the exodus from Egypt. The story goes from being enslaved to Pharaoh, to watching the ten plagues, to then witnessing Moshe become a leader speaking up for the needs of the Jewish people. After that, the Israelits finally receive permission to leave and rush out ready to leave Egypt with freedom in their sights. But then Moshe and the Israelites are faced with their next challenge–they’ve hit a dead end and reached the raging waters of the Red Sea. Getting to the other side looks impossible. In just a few short minutes they have what feels like an impossible decision to make–Do they give up and resign themselves to capture by the rapidly approaching Egyptian army? Or do they display courage by jumping into the Red Sea to accomplish the impossible?

The Jewish people were faced with a common challenge we face each day. When a task we want to accomplish looks impossible, we have two choices: we either give up or we at least try to do what we can. In these situations our anxieties and worries can get the best of us lowering our self-esteem and self-confidence. If the task seems  like too big a challenge we make ourselves believe it’s just better, and easier, for us to give up and walk away. But by doing that we miss out on some amazing experiences, like boogie boarding for the first time in the ocean or making it to the top of the climbing wall.

To grow and thrive, our chanichim (campers) need to learn how to trust in their own capabilities, while at the same time, understanding they can handle a situation even when they aren’t successful at something. It’s through experience, and learning how to bounce back from failure, that kids develop a healthy self-confidence. As adults we can model this through simple actions like modeling self-confidence, encouraging them to try new things even when it seems challenging, and teaching our chanichim that it is ok to make mistakes. 

As we prepare for the summer we look forward to our Chanichim having new experiences, new challenges and new opportunities.