Sitting in my office as Yom Kippur and Sukkot are rapidly approaching, my mind often drifts back to Camp Tzadi. This year we held camp at Mound Ridge in Cook Station, Missouri.
It was our largest camp session so far in terms of the number of campers, and I would also argue our most successful. From the morning prayer and study sessions to afternoon activities to float trips down the river and Israel Day, campers and staff alike have agreed that this was our best year to date.
However, I’m not satisfied with camp just getting better. In my mind the most essential aspect to Camp Tzadi is transferring the faith of Messianic Judaism onto the next generation. I went to the same Christian summer camp for ten years. I began as a camper at age eight and spent my last summer there as a counselor at eighteen. My camp was the most formative experience I had growing up. It’s what I looked forward to throughout the school year, and I still keep in touch with friends from camp over twenty years later. It has profoundly influenced who I am including my world outlook and choice of music. Most importantly, it’s where my parents’ faith became my faith. For me then in my youth, besides my parents, nothing had a more significant impact on my life.
This is what I want Camp Tzadi to be for our campers. Teens today in the Messianic movement have many voices, both secular and religious trying to influence them and take them away from their faith. They need a place to come to unplug from the world for a few weeks and to recharge their spiritual batteries for the next year—a place where discipleship to the Master and a dedication to a Torah life becomes not just something they do because they grew up in it but instead because it’s real and something they own themselves. If we do not pass on Messianic Judaism to this next generation we have failed, and this prophetic movement will end. In that sense then, Camp Tzadi is one of, if not the most important thing we are doing at First Fruits of Zion.
I am confident that with God’s help and our current staff and the counselors we are raising up, we are creating something beautiful. Something that will have just as much lasting impact on the campers as my camp experience did on me growing up. It is something that will create a brand-new generation of Messianic Jews and Gentiles who own their faith as never before and change the world for Messiah.