But the survival of the three children - ages 9, 9, and 12 - was not the only miracle and blessing of today's story. My daughter described how she and a few of her fellow counselors had immediately gone to the fallen kids to assess the then-unconscious children, and her partners began CPR. They quickly passed the life-saving duties to the more senior and medically trained staff as they arrived moments later. After a brief call to mom for reassurance, she returned to the rest of the group and began the healing process with the campers, many as young as 8 or 9. As a mother I have never been more proud of my kid. But I am equally proud and grateful to GUCI and all the URJ camps for the work they do with all of our children. They have been instrumental in cultivating the confident, caring young woman I am so very proud to call my daughter, as they have so many other young adults, many of whom go on to lead communities as rabbis, educators, and Jewish professionals. Equally important in light of this week’s horrific accident is the amazingly supportive and nurturing community at camp that will sustain everyone, of every age, who was touched by today's neartragedy. I would never wish a crisis like this on our children under any circumstance. But I also cannot think of a more appropriate place for the children who shared this terrifying episode to begin to process this event. The campers, staff, and rabbis there, with the support of the URJ leadership, will not only guide the community to a place of healing, they will bring the camp back to the sacred task of living life, and making memories, as they bring the first session at GUCI to a happy, albeit poignant close.
So as this Shabbat draws to a close I am deep in prayer and gratitude for the miraculous outcome of today's event. Hug your kids tonight, call your grandchildren, and give someone you love an extra kiss. And if you are as inspired by the courage and character of the young adults giving our children some of the most powerful experiences of their lives this summer, please join me tonight in writing a check to the camp or youth group of your choice. This simple investment will contribute more to the future of the Jewish people than any synagogue dues or community pledge. No matter the denomination or affiliation, today’s Jewish youth activities truly build the Jewish community of tomorrow. I have faith in the future of the Jewish people because of the simple bravery exhibited by the teens, young adults, and the rabbis and staff who support them as they make magic every summer at places like GUCI.
Tomorrow, I will put my middle daughter, aged 8, on the bus to URJ’s Camp George for her very first overnight camp experience. The week after, my youngest, aged 7, and I will join her for my week on faculty. And while I wish I could hold all three of them in my arms and protect them from everything that could ever hurt them, I will continue to let them go as far as they are able, to places like GUCI, Camp George, and every other Jewish youth program that inspires them. Life can change with the breathtaking speed of a lightning flash. But the strength of community - no matter what our age - will always sustain us.
Chazak, Chazak, v’Nitchazeik - be strong, be strong, and let us all be strengthened!