If You Build It, They Will Come
There is a famous line in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.” Fast forward 27 years. In two short months, Camp Ramah in Northern California will open its gates to more than 230 campers (and counting) who have signed up for our inaugural summer. Dayenu. We have built it together as a community, and campers and staff are really coming.
After literally walking the land in Northern California for years, rising and falling through the highs and lows that come from creating a start-up, debating whether to buy or lease a property, working through the studies that told us if you build a new camp, there are kids who will sign up, here we are. At last.
We cannot think of a better way to make Judaism relevant to our children and our children’s children than through the experiential learning that goes on in an immersive environment like a summer camp. Under the leadership of our soon-to-be ordained Executive Director, Sarah Shulman, we know that our children will experience environmentalism, community and leadership through a Jewish lens, and that they will learn that ritual and practice can be truly joyful when interwoven into everyday life within a close network of friends and counselors.
It is no surprise that this journey has been interwoven every step of the way with leadership and support of Wexner graduates: from members of our Board, past and present, to financial supporters, to staff. It is also no surprise that our colleagues at other Jewish camps in Northern California were supportive of our efforts, recognizing that any concern about competition among camps was far outweighed by the understanding that there are vast numbers of children who have never experienced Jewish camp at all. Rising tides lift all boats.
As I sat down this Pesach, and attempted to relive the experiences of our ancestors as if I too were a slave in Egypt, I could only imagine what G-d may have said to the Jews while walking out of Egypt as they commenced their journey to Mount Sinai. Well, perhaps I do know what both G-d and Moses would have said: ”If you build it, they will come”.
Craig Miller, an alum of the Wexner Heritage Program (LA/Bank of America), is co-president of the Board of Directors of Camp Ramah in Northern California. He is married to Jacqueline Shelton (WHP, LA/Bank of America) and dad to three sons, Aaron, Joshua and Ilan. In his free time, he chairs the financial services law practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phelps, LLP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.