Ramah hunkers down for one of the toughest challenges of modern life – saying goodbye to camp for another year

By ROBERT SARNER, Kol Ramah, August 2000

The missing mosquitoes are a dead giveaway. Just like the sharper bite of the night air and the strange brew of sadness and exhilaration moving in from Skelton Lake. Everywhere you look, all signs point to the final days of camp. With them comes the telltale mix of emotions – the feeling of relief and frustration that the summer is about to expire, the dreading and eager anticipation of returning to one’s “normal” life; the sense of a journey completed and a road not yet taken.

Thoughts drift back to the city. Ramah residents have begun to seriously tire of the food at camp – how many times can a person be expected to make a meal out of lasagna? Campers are recycling conversation topics and staffers have clearly lost that early summer sparkle of exuberance. Even the prospect of another purchase at Tuck has lost its usual allure. This is not the way things were two months ago.

The end of camp hits home with a heavy dose of sobriety. Things are about to get mighty serious, beginning with the packing of duffle bags and culminating in countless tear-filled goodbyes. We are all about to parachute back home to a radically different reality, landing with a brutal, resounding thud.

We are soon to terminate a summer rife with major historic events and benchmark dates. Sure, it was the first summer of the millennium and the 21st century. Of course, it marked 40 years since Ramah in Canada was founded. And everyone knows it was the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Ramah’s satellite town of Bracebridge. These indeed have been heady days.

But lest we forget, it also marks the end of an era – the conclusion of Rabbi Mitch Cohen’s 11-year reign as director of Ramah. And let there be no mistake about it. This is no mere bureaucratic change. More so than at most places, the role of director plays a particularly seminal role in the life of a camp. The director is a larger-than-life figure, looming over the day-to-day reality of camp and that’s exactly what Mitch has been at Ramah since 1990. His departure means the camp must now embark on a new journey, like it has done several times before. The torch of leadership is about to be passed from one good rabbi to another.

Before we all know it, the buses will be cruising through the front gate next June en route to the Beit Am Katan (Small Rec Hall). By that point, summer 2000 will be relegated to distant memory and another chapter in the great on-going story of Ramah will start to unfold, both on and off the pages of Ramah will start to unfold, both on and off the pages of Kol Ramah.

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