Parsha Post: Matot

This week’s parsha is taken from Numbers 30:2-32:42 and is called Matot, giving. It takes place while the Jewish people are still wandering in the wilderness, but are getting closer to the end of those 40 years. They’ve defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king if Bashan, on the east side of the Jordan River. The tribe of Reuben, Gad and half-tribe of Manasseh make a request of Moses, which grieves Moses. They ask for that land. Moses thought their motive was sinful, wanting to separate themselves from the rest of God’s people, and so Moses asks them. When things come around, those three tribes make an agreement that they will still go and fight alongside their brothers when they cross the Jordan River. Moses seems at peace.

Fast forward to the opening of Joshua. The book opens by marking the death of Moses, and Joshua being the new leader of the people. God reminds Joshua how he has raised him up for this time and job – to lead the people into the Promised Land. God reminds him to keep the commands, keep God’s words close to him. God says to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is our Camp Gilgal theme verse. This promise given to Joshua, extends to us.

Chapter 1 of Joshua closes with Joshua addressing these three tribes, asking them to make good on the promise they made with Moses. They affirm their commitment to fight alongside their brothers. It’s one of the first steps that God has Joshua do as the leader of the people. This commitment was important.

The Haftarah portion is taken from Jeremiah 1:1-2:3. It’s the call of the prophet. Jeremiah’s first response to God’s call was to identify his age as a barrier to being able to serve God. Our excuses to God always sound ridiculous when anyone else gets to hear them. Of course God knows our age, our flaws, our physical inabilities, our short-comings. And yet he still calls us, and asks us to be involved in the work that he is doing.

Each of these three passages show us how God is closely involved in our lives. What we do matters. It mattered that the three tribes fought alongside their brothers. It matters whether we stay close to God, or not. (Joshua’s reminder to not let the book of the Law depart from him). God knows us and loves us. Even though Jeremiah thought he was ill-equipped to be a prophet, God knew he was able.

Shabbat in Camp

I love arriving to Shabbat in camp. For one, it’s a time when I know that all of the campers (and staff!) will have showered. Everyone dresses up a bit, or at least puts on a clean shirt. We head down to dinner, light the candles, say kiddush for the juice and the challah. And Chef always prepares a nice meal for us to enjoy. It’s a bit of a calmer, quieter time in the dining hall. It’s different from the chaos of the rest of the week.

From there, we walk back to the Mishkan for a Shabbat service. Going through the liturgy, it’s easy to see the campers that know it from the ones that don’t. I love giving the campers that don’t really know much more than the Shema, exposure to these prayers, and the opportunity to learn and participate.

Our pace slows down for a bit.

There’s very little time or space in our regular lives to slow down. We are all moving at such a fast pace. I live in New York City, and I feel I know that acutely, but I know how full these campers’ schedules are and they live in cities, suburbs and rural places. We are all so busy.

And yet God gave us Shabbat, and told us to rest.

Being the person who writes the schedule for camp, it would be very easy to blow past Shabbat and keep our schedule just as full as the rest of the week. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything on Shabbat, but have a full day of FOB, but we’re intentional about what’s in the schedule and what’s out.

Shabbat Shalom, Camp Gilgal Community!
– Twister


Second Full Day

We’re up to the line just before dinner, bringing about the final set of activities for the day. Each day of camp is such a full day. At this point, Teen Camp feels like it’s been going on for a life time, but in a good way, I promise!

Whether camp is described as “a day at camp is like 2 weeks in the real world,” or “stepping into camp is like walking through the wardrobe and into Narnia,” – time passes differently at camp. So many activities, events, interactions. It’s hard to remember if something took place earlier in the day or a couple days ago.

Today, the campers walked to and from breakfast, did a Bible study on Mark with their tribes, had their 2 activities in the morning, choosing from soccer, basketball, Nukem (a version of volleyball that’s all catches and throws), Gaga Ball, ASL, sharing your faith, what is my testimony and mad science. We went to lunch, a meal of quesadillas, tomato soup and salad. A few more of the staff shared with the campers about what God has been doing in their life. We heard our cabin inspection report. From there, to the pool and game room, then some chill time, followed by an all-camp game of Capture the Degel, and some other field games. And on to Tabernacle.

Coming tonight, our annual Teen Camp Decathalon – a series of 10 events wackier and more outlandish than the last. The day will close with a campfire that’s discussion oriented. Last night, we talked about community. What makes up a community? Why is it important to be in a community? What is different between our believing and unbelieving communities? etc. It was a good discussion and I’m looking forward to ours tonight.

That is all for now.
– Twister


Teen Camp: What What!!

We made it! We’ve arrived! Teen Camp is on! The differences between Teen Camp and Junior Camp couldn’t be more obvious. We don’t need to occupy or entertain the teens, they will do that themselves. We don’t need to stop them from rough housing or running wild. For my staff, we stop giving orders, and begin conversing again.

Teen Camp is such a fun week of the year. For the staff, we can play a bit harder than we could at Junior Camp. We can engage the teens in conversations that are a bit more interesting to us. We can engage the teens in spiritual conversations with less of a lead in than with the younger campers, too. Not only that, but we can also see the oldest campers, who are connected to their faith, serving as role models for the younger, new teen campers. We can create an environment where being connected to your faith is the thing to do. It’s our hope and prayer that this will be something that’s real for the campers, a place for real spiritual growth and encountering God.

Pray with us. Pray for us.
– Twister

First Night of Camp Recap

Happy to be starting camp!
Happy to be starting camp!

Hey Parents!

It’s been a pretty fast and furious first night and day of camp. The campers are all settled and have been able to experience their first night and real day of camp and its activities. We started out last night with some tasty pizza and wings with a healthy dose of salad or veggies. After that each tribe went and took their swim test; fears were overcome and there were many green wristbands given out! Once everyone had dried off they went to the Mishkan and picked their tribe names and tribe flag. There are 4 tribes this year with the names: Levi, Judah, Reuben, and Benjamin. Following the choosing of names and flags the campers and staff began to head to their first campfire. Songs were song, and afterwards Baby Carrots gave a campfire talk about giving the glory to God through both our actions and words. The campers then settled down and spent their first night in their cabins with their staff and cabin mates.


More to come…

– Twister

5 Ways Camp Changes the World

5 Ways Camp Changes the World

Now that it’s March and the weather is getting warmer (currently in my hopes and dreams since it was 16F when I walked to work this morning, but I’m trusting it will in actual life too), my thoughts shift more and more to the summer.

I read this blog post this morning. Look at the link at the top. I wholeheartedly agree with every point the author made. I thought I would add my own comments, from a Camp Gilgal perspective to his 5 points.

#4 We are so busy, it’s hard to create space to reflect. Whether it’s TAWG with Adventure Camp, or a few moments after campfire to linger before Lights Out, there’s time.

#2 Camp opens opportunities for young people to learn leadership skills they may have to wait years before having access to in the more adult world of jobs and internships. What’s wrong with learning great skills while having fun? Isn’t that what most of want anyways? (I say most because I recognize that there are some very serious people out there).

#3 I have had these experiences ONLY at Camp Gilgal: high ropes course, multi-day canoe trip, overnight backpacking trip, made mosaics, made my own belt, built a clock, made a challah plate, played Mission Impossible, played Search and Soak, played Big Ball, played Wells Fargo, had a screaming competition, made mud angels, sat in silence with 30 others staring at the stars… If I were to list the activities I’ve primarily experienced at camp, it would be endless.

#1 With all those experiences, how can you not develop lifelong friendships? (Shout out to: Ben, Naomi, Josiah, Hannah, Tim!)

#5 At Camp Gilgal, I know the course of my life was forever changed. I first was aware of God reaching out and speaking to me at camp. I saw a place where God used my gifts when I began serving as a Tribe Leader. I became sensitive to the Holy Spirit moving in my heart, and enabling me to be empathetic with the campers around me. Camps empower children, teens, and young adults to work in dynamic groups together.

Wonderful Winter Weekend 2014 First Look at Photos

If you haven’t added the Camp Gilgal East page on Flickr to see the photos, we still want to give you a few glimpses at all of the fun we had! Stories and a recap will come tomorrow!

So much love on the Black Team!
So much love on the Black Team!
The green team hanging out!
The green team hanging out!
The Tribe of Simeon talks about worship!
The Tribe of Simeon talks about worship!
Thanks for leading us in Havdalah, Monkey!
Thanks for leading us in Havdalah, Monkey!