by Rabbi Ken Chasen, Leo Baeck Temple – Los Angeles, CA
URJ 6 Points Sports Academy- CA is pure magic for kids who love athletics, are proud to be Jewish, and enjoy growing as teammates and members of a community… and can’t wait to have fun in the summertime!
The Shabbat I spent with the 6 Points community this summer was a tour de force in the very best of Jewish camping. Anyone who thinks that “sports kids” wouldn’t be interested in singing the prayers or sharing their own original meditations during worship hasn’t been to 6 Points! From Kabbalat Shabbat services to our Shabbat dinner… from our spirited Birkat Hamazon (prayer after the meal) to a song session exploding with joyful energy… from the full-body engagement of Israeli dance to the full-soul engagement of the camp community’s weekly bracelet ceremony, a camp filled with athletes of all ages joined in creating the kind of heart-strong Shabbat experience that makes Jewish camping such an invaluable part of cultivating young Jewish identities.
At 6 Points, all of the usual social boundaries in the lives of children blissfully wash away. Because campers are, at all times of the day and night, growing into Jewish values that make them better athletes and teammates, it’s not unusual to see fourteen-year-old girls cherishing their friendships with nine-year-old boys who they see every day on the basketball court or the baseball field. The strong commitment to developing competitive skills is what you would expect from any sports camp; the dedication on the part of both coaches and counselors to developing human skills through the use of Jewish principles is what sets 6 Points apart from all other sports camping opportunities.
If you want to see all of this come alive, all you need to do is witness the bracelet ceremony that concludes each Shabbat evening at camp. When you see a young athlete stand in front of the entire camp and explain why they are giving a kavanah (intention) bracelet to their tennis coach for helping them to overcome self-doubt… or a teenager telling the whole camp why their teammate should be recognized for courage and improvement as a player… you are watching an organic, living Jewish community in action. And when the summer is over, whether on the field of play, at home with their families, or as members of their home Jewish communities, the campers at 6 Points will carry what they’ve learned into every corner of their lives.
If you have a child or know a child who is a Jewish athlete – do them a tremendous favor… send them to 6 Points Sports – California!