Religious Worship at Camp
Camps have the unique opportunity to integrate daily and weekly prayer into camp life. Camp schedules are controlled and planned out by counselors and outside distractions are almost nonexistent, due to camp isolation. Perhaps most centrally, a camp community is tightly knit and intense, an intensity that spills over into prayer. Camp services tend to be camper-led and exploratory, just like other camp activities. But services and prayer often have intensity that other activities lack, since campers often wear special dress to mark Shabbat, sing rousing songs of prayer, and break off their normal daily routine.
Student music often plays a part in camp worship, encouraging students to bring their secular skills into their Jewish lives.
Outdoor services emphasize the natural harmony lessons of camp and intensify worship.
Worship at camp is powerful and often remembered by former campers as adults. A photo above shows adults posing with a Torah at Camp Ramah.
Camp Walden. Denmark, Maine. Ethel Katzenstein attended the girl's camp in the 1920s. Camper playing the violin.
Outdoor religious services at country camp, circa 1950
Camp Ramah. Group of individuals holding a Torah in 1965 in front of a picnic table.