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Shabbos at Camp Tagola

I am maybe thirteen years old, and I am going out on the lake, in a speedboat at Camp Tagola.
My legs are hooked up to the thing that you wear when you’re going to ride the water.
And I hold on, God knows how I did it, until the boat takes off and for maybe three seconds I am standing up just like that in the water.
I’m flying!
The memory of those three seconds is so weird.
It’s like the time was so incredibly short, but I can cover myself in that sensation for as long as I want to, whenever I put myself back there.
In the morning before Shabbos we would have an activity period, and I would go waterskiing as much as I humanly could.
Those were the days when you could take time to get ready for Shabbos.
There was no thing of working right up until the last minute, and then begrudgingly setting up the candles. Eating somebody else’s homemade cooking, that you took home as takeout food.
I remember we would all line up for the showers in the bunk.
The floors of those showers were so gross, lined and spotted with dirt and dirty leaves, but nobody ever bothered to clean them.
We didn’t care. We took our showers and put on something relatively clean and brushed our hair.
The more sophisticated among us put on lip gloss.
We all went out to the walking path to synagogue in lines. (At camp, we called this structure the synagogue, even though it was basically a large, very simple, cabin.)
There were prayerbooks at the front of the synagogue and we took them and sat down on the hard wooden benches.
Nobody complained.
The country air felt so good on my cheeks.
Most of the service was singing.
“Lecha Dodi, Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah, Penai Shabbat Nekabela, Lecha Dodi Lekrat Kallah, Pnai Shabbat Nekabelah.”
God, I remember it like it was yesterday.
We turned and swirled and swayed to the songs. I can still smell the trees in my nostrils.
After services we walked up to the dining hall.
You can’t imagine how good the food was.
And there were trays, and trays, and trays of it, steaming hot.
The kids did not have to go crazy, fighting for the last morsel of the kiddush. Because there was just so — much — food.
Just like we sat together in the synagogue, we ate together at the meal.
My mother worked there as the nurse and I enjoyed absconding from my bunk every week to sit with her and my dad, who would come up for the weekend.
Shabbos days I clearly remember, as well.
They were so incredibly lazy.
We sat on the lawn and talked.
We played “chamesh avanim,” five rocks. Tossed the rocks one at a time up in the air, and tried to catch them again on the way down.
Played tetherball.
I broke every single finger on my hands playing that game. I loved it.
Again I sat with my mom and dad in the afternoon.
And somehow nighttime approached, the end of Sabbath, and we gathered again in the dining hall for kumsitz. (We sat around in a large circle and sang.)
Shabbos is going away,
Shabbos is gone it’s the end of the day
Oh Shabbos you really should know
We’re sorry to see you go.
But you will come back next week we know.
Yes you will come back ’cause we love you so.
So let us thank HaShem,
Who will bring Shabbos back again.”
I miss those years.
I miss the innocence.
I miss when Shabbos could truly be called a day of rest.
All opinions my own. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons 3.0. Public domain photo via Pixabay.

Help Your Partners Announce Your Announcement

The federal government offers many free tools that are useful to communicators regardless of where they work. One of these is "Promoting Your Public Report: A Hands-On Guide," (available in PDF and online), published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

I stumbled across this helpful guide and found it both comprehensive and concise. You can use it strictly for promoting publications, or more broadly when informing the public about other matters.

The intended purpose of the document is to help you plan ahead of time for major announcements, by considering all the ways in which you might communicate about them. But there is another, potentially far more powerful way to use it. And that is to develop templates that in effect multiply your efforts a thousand fold, by helping your partners to customize and share your message as it suits their needs.

This type of communication functions like "semi-homemade cooking," mixing basic elements that you provide (e.g., information and answers to frequently asked questions) with elements that your partners find independently relevant.

One example of this, which appears below, is a brief stakeholder email. The email is comprised of three parts:
  • Brief introduction - "bottom line up front" - what is this and why does it matter.
  • Suggested path forward for sharing the information - concise and linear.
  • Links to supporting materials - general text for announcements, fact sheet, and anticipated questions and answers.
Here is the text of the email. Material to be customized appears in brackets. Of course, you can customize the template as you wish, including adding links to social media, interactive educational tools, event announcements, and so on:
Dear [name], 
On [date], [name] [did or will] [insert action here]. [Offer a bit more detail as to what this means and why it’s important – 1-2 sentences.] The purpose of this email is to assist you, as our partner in coordinated communication, to promote the report to your audiences at the right time. 
Below is a timeline and six suggested steps to take. Also included are a few supporting materials to help make this process as easy as possible for you or your communication team. 
TIMELINE AND SUGGESTED STEPS (leading up to and including when the report becomes public):
  1. [DATE RANGE]. Issue announcement to key audience/s about this initiative. Use the fact sheet and frequently asked questions (below).
  2. [DATE RANGE]. Include articles in internal newsletter(s) to your audience about your involvement in this effort as part of your commitment to [major goal of this stakeholder group]. Don't forget to mention the launch date, which will be [Month ##].
  3. [DATE RANGE]. Include articles in external newsletter(s) to your audience about your involvement in this effort as part of your commitment to [major goal of this stakeholder group]. Include the launch date of [Month ##], plus the [initiative]'s Web address ([add URL here]) for questions.
  4. [X days before launch] Share the list of Questions & Answers with internal staff /employee leaders. Refer questions to [insert POC] by Emailing [EMAIL ADDRESS HERE] or calling [(###) ###-####].
  5. [DAY of REPORT RELEASE] Email an announcement (attached) to your leadership and employees about the report along with the link to the initiative, which will be [URL here].
  6. [DAY OF REPORT RELEASE] Link the initiative website to your intranet and public Web site.
  • General Text for Announcements. [INSERT URL – SUBPAGE WITHIN INITIATIVE WEB PAGE] (Customize text before sending it.)
  • Questions & Answers (a.k.a. Frequently Asked Questions). [INSERT URL – SUBPAGE WITHIN INITIATIVE WEB PAGE]
By taking a coordinated approach, we will increase the number of people who are aware of the initiative, which is the first step toward using it to [insert major goal]. 
Thank you for your willingness to do your part in sharing this information with the public. Please let us know if you have any questions. 
[Contact Information]
Good luck.

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. Public Domain. Photo via Wikipedia.