Happy Shavuot Camp Gilgal!

Hey Camp Gilgal!

Hope you had a great week. Every week that passes is a week closer to camp, and I am SO excited! As of today, there are 44 days until junior camp starts! These past couple weeks I have booked field trips for both junior and teen camp (get excited!), I’m working on devotional guides for the staff, all camp activities, booking transportation, and more. Sox and I have also been reading a chapter of Joshua each morning, and I’m looking forward to studying it more during tabernacle at junior camp. I’ve been kept very busy, but I’m having so much fun. Now, are ya ready for today’s blog?? Let’s dive in…

This weekend is the celebration of Shavuot (also called the Pentecost), so that’s what I’m going to be writing to you about today! This celebration, also called The Feast of Weeks, is celebrated 7 weeks after Passover. It’s origins are found in ancient grain festivals with the beginning of the spring/summer season when the first fruits of the land started to grow. It is also associated with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai 7 weeks after the exodus from Egypt.

Shavuot was a way for our people to offer their best to the Lord. God commands His people in Exodus: “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 23:19; 34:26). Deuteronomy 26:1-4 also gives instructions concerning the offering of firstfruits of the land. After the giving of the firstfruits to the priest, Jewish people recite a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for bringing them to a land flowing with milk and honey. On Shavuot, it is traditional to eat dairy products to remember this land flowing with milk and honey.

Today, the celebration of Shavuot has taken the route of celebrating the giving of the Torah. This is because in the absence of agrarian culture and the Temple, focus on the Torah became central. This is a joyous celebration, because it signifies the hopeful springtime of the relationship between God and Israel. It is traditional to read the book of Ruth during the celebration of Shavuot. People in Israel stay up ALL night reading the Torah and celebrating. I, for one, will not be participating in that aspect of celebration #FOBallnight

In Acts 2, the eleven disciples are together along with Matthias (who had just been appointed to replace Judas). Verse 1-2 tells us that they are all in one place celebrating the Pentecost when a sound like the wind comes flooding into the house. All of a sudden, they are all speaking different languages! People tell them that they are going crazy, but Peter explains that the Spirit has poured out on His people. Jesus had just ascended into heaven, and this was the sign that His Holy Spirit was with His people. His Holy Spirit is a first fruit, if you will. Through this incident of crazy talk (I mean, imagine if you went to class one day and all of your classmates were speaking different languages from one another!), people are able to see the power of Jesus and receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit.  The wind-like sound of the Holy Spirit is similar to the thunder and lightning that accompanied the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. During Shavuot, the people gave thanks to God for His giving of the Torah and of the fruits of the land, so it’s hard to see how it’s not also significant that on this day He gave His Holy Spirit to the people.

Hope you eat lots of pastries, cheesecake, cheese blintzes, and kugels this weekend!

Sneezy

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Psalms and Summer Camp

Hey Camp Gilgal – it’s Sneezy! I’ve been looking at some interesting articles about camp this week to help us staff prepare, and I want to share my thoughts with you on this particular one called, “A Prayer in the Forest.” Full article can be found here.

Last year at junior camp, the staff read a Psalm together each morning during our staff meetings. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I LOVE the Psalms because they bring me so much comfort and I love the way they are written. The Psalms have a unique way of reminding me that God is a personal God who cares deeply about His people. A large portion of the Psalms are written by David, who is being pursued by his enemies and is in a desperate situation. But, he cries out to God and truly tells Him what is on his heart. I love taking David’s words and making them my own prayer to God.

The author of this article, Oren, recounts a time at summer camp where he got lost (yikes). Not knowing what to do, he started to whisper some Psalms to himself that he remembered from his classes. Psalm 23:4 came to his mind (if you’ve been to camp before, you’ve definitely heard this Psalm! It’s a super well known one): “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Oren says that even as he was lost at camp, this Psalm helped him to clear his mind and reduce his anxiety.

Psalms are often recounted during liturgical services, but in this situation Oren saw how relevant they were to life. The Ketuvim (the part of the Hebrew Bible called “the writings”) weren’t given much priority in his classes, but the words from the Psalms came alive to him at the Orthodox summer camp he attended. Oren says: ” I’ve concluded that the Psalms’ effect is twofold: They are a prayer to God for healing and salvation, and they’re also for us to feel reassured that there is One Above who can help, that not all is lost. They provide us with a way to cry out to God—representing, perhaps, the basic human desire for a protector with powers beyond any human’s.”

The poetry from the Psalms is still relevant for us today as Jewish people who believe in Jesus. The Psalms are a great place to start for memorizing Scripture and hiding God’s word in your heart. The Psalms act as a guideline for prayer, they bring comfort and peace, and they also point to the Messiah. Psalm 118 (I love this Psalm!) says:

Verse 14: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation”

Verse 22-23: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes”

The Psalms take on even more meaning for us as believers because we know that Jesus is our salvation, and that He is the one all of Hebrew Scripture points to. How awesome! Man, I just love the Psalms. Whether you’re a first time camper, a veteran, or a parent of either category – the Psalms teach us that there is a God we can call out to who is in control at camp and in our everyday lives. I’m so glad that this is true of our God. Sox, Beardo and I have been reminding ourselves of this as we get ready for camp. We talk about the Psalms a lot at camp too, and I’m so glad we do, because I love them and they constantly remind me that God’s got me. Whether I’m at camp or I’m back home in Toronto, God is my refuge and my strength (Psalm 46:1).

Also I realize that this article is about getting lost at camp which is discomforting (and highly unlikely!) The Psalms are a good resource and a reminder whether we’re at home, at camp, missing home while we’re at camp, or missing campers while we’re at home. God is always with us and his word is always good.

Until next time,

Sneezy

 

 

 

 

Update from Sneezy

Hi Camp Gilgal fami-mily! Sneezy here and I have exciting news… I am the summer intern this year! Woohoo!

I arrived in New York City last Thursday and so far I’ve just been settling in, hanging out with Sitruce, and getting started on camp planning. It’s been so much fun going for runs in the city, grocery shopping and cooking for myself. This city makes me so happy and I’m crazy excited to be working here until camp starts! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be living here and doing my favourite (yes, you’ll have to put up with Canadian spelling on the blog this summer… sorry not sorry) thing as my job!

During this time of settling in, I’ve been thinking a lot about our camp theme verse, Joshua 1:9. Here’s a refresher in case you forgot:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Even though I’m away from my home and my family, and not in my normal routine, God never leaves my side. As I navigate this internship, God is for me and I can trust in Him. I can be strong and I don’t have to be afraid because God is with me. So encouraging!

Camp is the highlight of my year and is super fun, but more importantly it’s a time where I continually learn to give God my all. I know this summer is going to be challenging, but it is my prayer for myself that I would trust in God in a deeper way and give all the details of camp to Him. God is in control of camp… which is a great thing!

RedSox is on vacation right now, so once she returns we’re going to get cracking on camp planning and I’m so stoked to share the journey with you all!

I’m praying for all you (campers and parents alike!) and I promise to keep you updated with all things camp-y!

Until next time,

Sneezy

WWW recap and photos!

Hi Camp Gilgal fami-mily! I can’t believe it’s only been a week since I saw some of you at WWW! If you’re missing camp right now, don’t worry, I’m in the same boat. So, to lift all of our spirits in this mid-winter and post-camp gloom, I thought I’d pop on here today and share some photos featuring all of your amazing smiles (all the photos are on Flickr, btw) as well as a weekend recap!

Friday: Sox and I left in the morning to make our way to Bear Creek. On our way, we picked up all the snacks and materials for our superhero colour war! We got there, set up, and then the campers arrived! After taking some time to settle into our cabins, we played “Never Have I Ever,” the blinking game, we ate dinner, had our Shabbat service where we did our liturgical service, worshipped, and talked about the Purim story, and then we settled down for the night. Day 1 = success!

Saturday: So much happened on Saturday… I’ll try to do it justice! After eating our delicious breakfast (all the meals were fantastic!), we spent the rest of the morning playing gaga ball and in our Bible lessons. I loved looking at Psalm 19 because it reminded me how great and powerful our God is — he is the Creator of the universe yet He loves each one of us SO much. He shows us His love through His creation and through His laws. The afternoon was our SUPERHERO COLOUR WAR! In our teams (yellow, red and blue) we came up with our superhero backstories, a theme song, created our superhero mascot, and played superhero dash and shenanigans. It was SO fun! We had FOB, dinner, our Havdallah service, and then we watched the Incredibles! Day 2 = rad!

Sunday: Tabernacle, our final lessons and activities, pack up time, lunch, and then time to go home!

I hope this was a nice little refresher of the weekend. We miss you and are praying for you always! Don’t forget — registration for the summer is open! If you had fun at WWW, register early, and register often. Now enjoy some photos…

In Yeshua,

Sneezy