I know what you are thinking - "just a long drive for a brief visit; it is hot; other than seeing our kid, what else should I be doing and did I bring everything she asked for?"
I admit it; I was not looking forward to the experience. Of course, I want to see my daughter, her friends, meet her counselors and hear all the stories that she didn't include in her letters AND I was so worried about the heat, the drive, the time going too quickly and then the part about leaving her.
But that didn't happen today. Today was different. Though my husband and I arrived on one of the last buses, our daughter greeted us with pure joy as if camp was her own home. She completely embodied, "Welcome to my home." We found a place to have our picnic, and before we even begun our meal/snacks, she was sharing stories, introducing friends and so truly grateful to be with us. Her smile never left her face. Her confidence shined through every action and she also showed great compassion during a few significant moments in the day.
So what is so special about Camp Ramah? I can only share what I witnessed today. My daughter and others are immersed in beautiful balance of friendship and spirituality. While I realize this is not everyone's experience, she and her friends are always happy to see each other, even when I know that they had only been apart for less than an hour. Where is G-d in this? For my daughter who is sometimes searching, G-d is definitely at Ramah. Her soul is richer and her curiosity and commitment to engaging in this religious exploration is with great determination and joy.
As we left today, my daughter and I were both fine, happy to go back to our remaining days apart. While my husband and I drove home, tears came to my eyes when I realized how often my daughter will look back on this summer as one of her best. You can feel it and now I understand again why she referred to Camp Ramah as her "Garden of Eden," and her "paradise" last year in her bat mitzvah drash (I've included the link below if you want to read it).
My Daughter Wants To Be More Like Eve
The tears in my eyes also reflected how true her words remain a year later. She may not realize it, but it is not lost on me. I am so proud of her. I am so glad that she made the decision to go to this camp and allow herself to experience all that it has to offer. She has deepened her friendships as well as her own search for her spirituality.
This will definitely be filed under "Best Days" file. And boy, did I need this one.