(Courtesy of Camp Hikon) Does spending the summer months just the same as last year seem discordant with the waves of infection, climate chaos and food insecurity sweeping humanity? How about a summer camp that actually teaches kids how to survive and thrive in the coming “new normal”?
Yeshivos are practiced in teaching our youth the skills they would use in settled society. But it’s blindingly obvious that the coming years will see the emergence of a society that’s anything but settled. The skills our young people will need to tackle the systematic medical, political, economic and environmental crises that materialize and are compounded almost daily have little in common with Regents subjects. But it’s hard to imagine the Board of Regents taking this matter seriously, and it’s equally hard to imagine yeshivos setting aside the Regents exams anytime soon. Fortunately, there are still a couple of months left in the year when this new skill set can get the consideration it justly deserves.
What sorts of skills should we be teaching? First, enhanced memory skills will be critical in a world in which technology suddenly ceases to operate, as recently happened in Puerto Rico and Texas.
Second, our youth must learn how to be part of a cohesive group. As nations decline, government power will fade and lawlessness will proliferate. People will have to learn to look to their local group for protection.
Third, we have to teach where food comes from. Commercial food is not always the best choice even when available, and it will most assuredly not be, thanks to the fragility or our complex global supply chains in an increasingly unstable world. Of course, stocking up on canned goods is a start, but it’s critical to know how food is prepared and preserved.
Fourth, the ongoing assault on the environment and the escalation of extreme weather events implies that it should no longer be expected that people will remain settled in their communities for decades, but must be prepared to be on the move. We must be light on our feet as well as being light on the land. This best way to accomplish this is using the natural building techniques of our ancestors and sourcing mostly local materials found onsite.
Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys is being established this summer to meet all of these goals. (A girls division is also in the works.) For more information, call 347-764-8313 or visit our website at www.hikon.org.