It’s halftime of the Campful Jewish Summer Camp Tour.

Here’s what’s happened so far:

Hava Nashira at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, Oconomowoc, WI.

What’s that? A one week Jewish songleading intensive.  Tremendous singing and prayer.  Barely enough time to go to the bathroom. Seriously.

Home for a day.  Family love. Laundry. Repack. Restring.

Goldman Union Camp Institute, Zionsville, IN

What’s that?...My home away from home.  Where I met my lifelong friends, Steve and Aaron.  Where I learned to play guitar.  Where I had my Bar Mitzvah.  Where Elysha and I met.  Where our daughter, Ava, now attends.

What did I do?

  • Songleader training with my first songleading teacher, David Snyder. 
  • Led a hootenanny with Rabbi Ron Klotz, Rabbi Jim Bennett and all of GUCI staff.
  • Lights Out programs each night for cabins of sleepy campers.
  • Studied prayer and the concept of sacrifice with Avodah.
  • Unit programs of singing, teaching, and silliness.
  • Assisted songleaders with various skills and repertoire.
  • Led morning song session (Theme from Hawaii Five-O) with Rabbi Sandford Kopnick (my former camp counselor).
  • Taught guitar to an eight-year-old boy named, Gabe.
  • Played basketball (worked on my 3-pointer) still not so fresh.
  • Rehearsed a horn section (worthy of the French Quarter in New Orleans) with five campers.
  • Danced in a conga line with campers during Shabbat Song Session.
  • Heard camp sing as beautifully and as joyfully as ever on Shabbat.
  • Played a really fun concert with my band.

Camp Newman, Santa Rosa, CA

What’s that?...A Jewish summer camp in Wine Country. Seriously.

What did I do?

  • Was told upon entering camp that there was a missing dog on camp.
  • The dog was in my room when I got  there. Long story.
  • Ate at Gott’s Roadside (Formerly Taylor’s Refresher) in St. Helena. So good.
  • Led singing at the “night before the campers come this is a big deal” meeting.
  • Learned how to play the washboard (kind of).
  • Played basketball.  Focused on rebounding and setting picks. (Very effective).
  • Worked with songleaders. 
  • Was questioned about how “I am a Zen master.” Seriously.  Who told them that???
  • Led a sunrise prayer expedition at 4:30 in the morning.
  • Met a kid named Eli who was awesome. Always a smile on this kid’s face.  
  • Prayed a lot. Sometimes it worked.
  • Ate a lot of tuna salad.
  • Ate a lot of tots. They love tots there.  
  • Bought a new un-named guitar. Weird one, but a good one.  Love it.  Such a deal. Was told to find a guy named FATDOG in Berkley who might be able to give me more information about this mysterious instrument.
  • Celebrated Toby Pechner’s 22nd birthday.
  • Went out to breakfast, Wal-Mart and lunch with all of the Newman Songleaders. 
  • Learned about Wolf-T-Wednesday.  Bought a Wolf T at Walmart.
  • Jammed with Camp Swig legend, Gordon Lustig.
  • Taught some very green and very good young song leaders.
  • Was reminded to trust process.
  • Heard an awesome new song by Jackson Mercer.
  • Learned some sign language- most of it- appropriate.
  • Ate a bag of Firey-Hot Cheetos with Lime.
  • Drank some delicious wine.
  • Drank a lot of coffee.
  • Sang a bunch of God songs for Avodah’s God and Spirituality Program (God Said No by Dan Bern, Always There by Mason Cooper and me, B’tzelem Elohim by Michael Moskowitz and me, God Is God by Steve Earle)
  • Finally got rid of a nasty sinus infection. Thank you Z-Pak.
  • Got two awesome Father’s Day cards from my family.
  • Sang for lots of cabins at cabin time (cabin time is Newman’s bed time ritual)
  • It was “really hot” during the day.  Very cool, almost cold at night.
  • Played a concert with and for Camp Newman.  Best ever, I think. Truly felt like a “wow” moment.

Jacobs Camp, Utica, MS

What’s that?...A Jewish summer camp in the deep south.

What did I do?

  • Flew a red-eye from SFO to Atlanta.  2 hour layover.  Flew from Atlanta to Jackson, MS. Slept one hour.
  • Had breakfast with Adam Tanenbaum.  They DO have bagels in Jackson.
  • Took a hard nap.
  • Had 2 dream visions:  #1 I now know my spirit animal. It is a Quadricorn. #2 The next time I play Flowers Are Red by Harry Chapin I would like for 3 campers to be painting the story in real time on a giant easel in front of camp as they hear it.
  • Ate the best cornbread I have ever had.
  • Ate the best wings I have ever had at camp.
  • Had a rough sound check. Almost chaos.
  • Stayed calm and positive through it all. I think.
  • Gave the best concert I have ever given at Jacobs.
  • Jacobs camp has never sounded better.
  • Had a very meaningful conversation with head song leader, Nick May.
  • Got a sweet gift bag with snacks. I like snacks.
  • Took 3 showers in under 24 hours. It’s hot in MS.

Now: home sweet home

I’m home for a couple of days of recharging and reconnection with Elysha and Ava.

  • So grateful to be home.

  • Time to fold the laundry and wash some dishes.