Every Shabbat, everyone at GUCI gathers together for the weekend. Not only to share in the relaxation and celebrating of the past week and the upcoming new week, but to share in the sound of all of our voices coming together. Each event or program that takes place during this time centers around song and community. GUCI’s song leaders work to ensure the feeling of closeness and keep people in a zone of spirituality that is special to this place. The way all the voices on camp meld together into one strong, beautiful and mesmerising sound showcases the importance of prayer and music to this community and its power especially on Shabbat.
Shabbat has 5 Main programs that strictly involve the camp singing together. The Shabbat Walk, Services, Shabbat Song Session, Campfire and Havdallah.
The Shabbat Walk has the song leaders gather the camp together from their different sections as they move through camp on its main path. The walk stops at each area, up top first, followed by Girls’ Area, then Boys’, to officially welcome each group to Shabbat and the journey to services. The song leaders are spread throughout the crowd and the camp community mixes in to one large family, holding hands, taking pictures and complimenting each other on their outfits. Most importantly this is where the singing has started. The voices grow as each area is added, highlighting how for Shabbat prayer to be the best prayer you must have the entire community together.
Next is services. Almost all campers and staff can agree that the Beit Tefillah is one of, if not the, most special places on camp. The atmosphere that’s created mixed with the environment we sit in forces a feeling of peacefulness and joy. Singing and praying together in this setting is so intimate and special that alumni of GUCI can recall the feeling the rest of their lives.
Song session is where the mood of Shabbat changes. Once the meal is over, it becomes time to dance and celebrate. The songs are classics and the volume is loud. Song session is a moment where everyone demonstrates the care free and fun nature of Judaism at camp. People are jumping, sweating and belting out some of camp’s favourite songs together, while the time as a community continues. At the end of song session things are slowed down again, and the song leaders perfectly bring back the focus to the unity of the people here. Everyone has their arms around each other or links pinkies as they sway and sing with the lights off and candles lit.
Campfire is another special event that happens during Shabbat, and the location itself makes it feel like its separate from camp. The campers and staff walk together down to the clearing as the sun is almost all the way down. The fire roars huge as camp sits in a circle around it, the song leaders taking their position in the middle, as well. Campfire continues the mellow and relaxing songs that song session ended with and creates another beautiful moment of bliss through the joined voices.
The last of Shabbat’s singing happens after a whole day of mini Shabbat Chugim where everyone is split up everywhere around camp. Havdallah is what brings the camp back together. This service acts as such a great and relaxing way to take in all the action that have been happening around camp. It’s the reminder of how much growth, time, energy and love flows through GUCI everyday and how Shabbat acts as an example of how well and powerfully GUCI’s community demonstrates those strengths.
As Staff and Avodah share this Shabbat together, we are all thinking about and waiting for the camper voices about to be added, the camper service parts soon to be shared, and for the whole GUCI family to be back together to pray and sing together again as one voice for GUCI’s 60th summer.