Words for the Wise – A Shabbat Message from Rabbi Dan Utley

Shabbat shalom to camp families, alumni, and community members!  We are so excited to have completed our first full week of Trip I, Summer 2022. This week our awesome staff and campers conquered several steamy-hot summer days, learning new schedules and routines, a crazy hail storm and all the while, they excelled at building cabin communities with new friends and ole ones, too.

One of the most special aspects of this summer is that we welcomed over 140 brand new campers to the Home of Happiness at Camp Wise.  Returning staff and campers took pride in helping people in their first summer to feel welcome and at home here in Chardon. We helped ensure that these first few days would involve a smooth transition for our new campers by continually explaining camp traditions, teaching cheers and spirit circle, slowing down the Hebrew prayers for the first few times, and by making chug (specialty) signups easier for campers with visual and aural learning differences.

This Shabbat we read from Parashat Be’ha’alotecha in the book of Numbers. In this part of our Jewish story, the Israelites have completed dedicating the Mishkan – their first formal place of communal worship. One would imagine that the Israelite community would feel happy, comfortable and settled into their new rituals. But instead, the Israelites protest, “they complained bitterly to God, and God was incensed.” (Num. 11:1). It’s notable how God responds to the people’s concerns – by instantly becoming angry. While the people are just immersing in a new environment and daily practice, and are still learning, why wouldn’t God demonstrate the patience and loving-kindness we would expect?

As parents and as camp directors we know – sometimes our kids complain, too! It matters greatly how we respond to them in difficult moments. This summer at Camp Wise, under the expert leadership of Amy Kalk, LISW-S, our Community Care Manager,  we’ve renewed our attention to camper care by teaching our supervisors and staff members a philosophy of “each and every one.” Everyday we communicate between the different levels of staff about each and every camper and their experiences. From our head staff on down to our SITs (staff in training) we review notes about successes and challenges in each village in order to do our best in meeting each individual’s needs on camp. We discuss camper-camper dynamics, camper interests, staff performance and more.  All of this information helps us respond to campers with the right questions, patience and concern for their well-being.

As we head into this beautiful Shabbat let’s reflect on the joy of our campers and staff – living out their moments of excitement and growth at camp. We are so grateful to our 120 dedicated staff members who are implementing CARE at every level.  Here are some cabin updates and photos!


C1 had fun at the lake jet skiing with C2 and are looking forward to getting to know each other more!

C2 has spent the past week enjoying the water and various sports. The cabin has gone jet skiing, tubing, swimming, and played intense games of basketball. C2 even had a late night dance party with C1. We’re all looking forward to seeing what memories are ahead the following week.

C4 has spent tons of time at the lake in the past few days. We’ve done jet skiing as well as tubing, been on the aqua jump, kayaked and paddle boarded. It’s been a great way to cool down and enjoy these hot summer days.


C5 is so excited that the campers arrived this week! We had the best time grooming the horses at our HBR cabin activity.


C6 has had an amazing week! We went jet skiing and horseback riding in addition to swimming in the lake, pool, and sprinklers!


C7 mangos played almost every sport available at camp and spent time every day at the pool and lake! We enjoyed jet ski rides and long walks across camp and have had so much fun making new friends!


O1 has had a great first week at camp!  We had a lot of fun playing basketball and cooling off at the pool and the lake on a really hot Wednesday!  We can’t wait to have more fun as a cabin and with the rest of Ohalim!


05 Emus are off to an amazing start! They have enjoyed extreme ropes, lake activities, and so much more! Their favorite thing to do as a cabin is to play card games and hang in hammocks outside the cabin.


O7 enjoyed making pita at their teva cabin activity with their specialist Nicole! They also have gotten to learn all about their staff members when each of them has been bunked as a nightly ritual.


O8 has been having lots of fun celebrating saffrons birthday, loving their time at the pool , tackling the rope activities and much much more


O9 In the first week O-9 quickly found their place in camp! They have been busy with cabin activities such as ropes/the tower, HBR, a fun and interactive song session and of course lots and lots of swimming !! O-9 is filled with international staff which makes for cool story time at bed time !


N1 had a really fun time together with their specialist Ron at basketball


N2 had an amazing time jet skiing and being down at the lake


N3 started their battle pass today and their first task was to dance to an among us song in front of the camp which they loved. Tomorrow will be a different task. They’ve also just been having general fun together every day.


N4 has been bonding as a cabin and was so excited to get to go to ropes today


N6 has really enjoyed spending time together in the cabin specifically at bed time where there counselors tell them amazing bed time stories


N7 had a really awesome time tie dying as one of their first cabin activities


The campers in N8 loved learning how to salsa dance in the dance cabin activity


Solel has had an awesome start to the session! We kicked off camp with a Minion March followed by Pickle Night and a Bat Mitzvah for our supervisor! The evening programs have been the highlight of the week and we can’t wait for more! We know we’re heading out of camp soon and are looking forward to more adventures as one Solel!