What Parents are Saying: Letters from our Families
“You have done the most awesome thing for our children”
Shavuah Tov to you both. It was so sweet to have our children back with us for Shabbat and here in Tucson we davened with our congregation, and they both had the echo of shabbat at Eden Village inside them.
So, you two, I need to share with you (mamish as dear Reb Shomo would say) that you have done the most awesome thing for our children and all those others who have spent time at eden village this summer – counselors included. Both Zakkai and Aliya have come home with so many sweet, sweet stories of art, song, exploration, and FUN!
Your dreams have come true, you have created the kind of repair in the world that is shifting the nefesh of the next generation in a deep and meaningful way. Both kids canNOT imagine not coming back next summer as their time with you was so amazingly glorious for each of them.
Just stop, for a moment, and deeply connect with Yoni on this and accept Ilana and my deepest, deepest appreciation and love for the most holy work that you two are doing in the world and how you have so reached in a heart-opening and gorgeous way our two little ones that we have been working on here in Tucson these many years. I hope you too enjoyed their unique energy and resonance.
Many blessings to you both!
“One of the best days of my life!”
I want to thank you, Yoni and the entire Eden Village family for another wonderful summer! Shira had such an amazing experience last summer and this summer was even better. I think Shira’s words say it all. Here is an excerpt from one of her letters home. “Today was one of the best days of my life!! It was Wilderness Wednesday and we went on a hike and went rock climbing in the woods! It was an actual cliff!! It was so fun and challenging! It was such an amazing experience!”
I know I have said this to you before, but I cannot thank you enough for having the vision and creating Eden Village. It is so comforting as a parent to know that there is a place where Shira can spend three weeks and not only be fully accepted but actually embraced for who she is and how she wants to live her life. The work that the Eden Village family does is both deeply appreciated and inspirational.
I look forward to many more summers together.
“We use the camp as a reference point for making good choices”
Hi Yoni, Vivian and the whole Eden Village team,
Isaac had a wonderful summer with you and has matured wonderfully in your care. We see the positive effects of your loving support and Isaac’s incredible response to a new way of looking at things. The absence of electronics certainly helped reboot his thoughtful reflection on things, and we’ve found him able to articulate his thoughts more fully and with more depth. He has shown his ability to change his mind about areas where he gets “stuck” and we use the camp as reference point for making good choices and remaining engaged. Needless to say, we are super excited about Isaac returning again next summer.
All our best,
“You have created a magical environment”
Wow, Vivian. What a gift to hear all these wonderful things about Dalia. I really can’t say enough how much it means to have all these truths about Dalia noticed and appreciated by people who are new to Dalia’s life. And for her counselor to make the effort to write to us. So special. I loved meeting her counselors on pick-up day. That scene that day was so intense. It was fabulous to see Dalia being loved and loving all her new friends. (She has already gotten together with Zoe from her bunk!). All the hugs and tears. Amazing. Dalia wants to go back next summer for the whole summer. That feels a little too long to me at this point, but we’re mulling it over.
I’ve wanted to tell you again what I hope you’ve heard a million times already: you and Yoni and all the staff have created a magical environment at Eden Village. It is the best gift ever to be able to hand our daughter over to you and know that she will thrive and grow and have life-changing experiences and make connections that will feed her soul.
We are so grateful to you for your vision and for making it all happen. We will see you at the Festival of Eden for sure.
Janet & Jonathan Thaler
“I can tell from observing how he is interacting in the world”
Just wanted to drop a quick note and thank YOU, Yoni, and your fellow Eden Village staffers for the amazing work you did this summer to make camp a reality. Isaac made it home safely yesterday afternoon. He is so very grounded….and has shared some of the wonderful experiences he had at camp. I can tell more about what happened from observing how he is interacting in the world, actually, than by the stories he has retold, though I’m enjoying that too!!! Thanks for all you did to make his 10 days so meaningful.
I hope the rest of your summer is wonderful. Please keep in touch, and let me know if there is any way we can help spread the word about camp in our neck of the woods (Michigan).
“He wished the whole world were like this”
Dear Yoni and Viv,
WOW! Yair had such an amazing time at camp, and can’t stop talking about it. Kol hakavod for a job well done. He said many times how he felt so loved and valued and nurtured, everyone really caring for each other, and how he wished the whole world were like this.
Shabbat shalom and thanks again!
“She is glowing with joy…This is a summer she will never forget”
Dearest Vivian, Yoni and all the team at Eden Camp,
The beloved child has re-emerged from the depths of the USA at Heathrow airport in London.
She is glowing with joy and can’t stop talking about all the wonderful things that happened at camp and how she has never experienced anything quite like it.
We have read all the goodbye letters from her new-found friends and were quite choked by the amount of love and goodwill heaped upon her.
We have heard about rain-drenched nights in the pitch dark of the forest, eating fresh berries in pancakes picked and made themselves, microscopes and dissections, love and respect for all living creatures, milking the goat, wonderful madrichim and more……..
She’s already talking about coming back next year and has been recounting wondrous tales all morning about friendships and activities that most kids could only dream of.
How can we thank you enough for creating such a magic place? This is a summer she will never forget.
We send you our deepest thanks and much much love for taking such good care of her.
“Caleb truly was changed”
Caleb truly was changed by his time at Eden Village and he definitely wants to go back next year for longer. For the first time ever, he WANTED to sing grace after meals last Shabbat evening. He led the singing himself! This was so wonderful to me.
“An incomparable camping experience…She has been inspired”
Greetings from Sunny Miami Beach!
I thank all of you for providing Martha with an incomparable camping experience. It has greatly enriched her life and contributed to her maturity. She has been inspired by the wonderful example set by each staff member.
“Memories” from the musical “Cats” is one of my favorite songs… it defines “memories” as something that gives you roses in the winter. You have given Martha roses for many winters to come. Looking forward to next summer!!!!
“Definitely lit a spark that will continue to glow”
Dear Vivian and Yoni,
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful we are for the incredible camp/community you have created–Jonah had the time of his life and clearly grew in so many ways. You will most certainly see him again.
His stories will unfold over time, I am sure. We got a little at dinner tonight. You will probably enjoy knowing that we spent this evening unpacking his camp stuff and doing laundry together while singing everything from his songbook that we both knew! (I am thrilled that there are guitar chords written in, as I am just learning to play) Music was the perfect way to reconnect…
Baruch will also be pleased to hear that within moments after arriving home this afternoon, Jonah got on his bike, headed downtown, and talked to someone at a nearby apothecary about herbalism classes. He definitely lit a spark that will continue to glow.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirits and your vision. May this be the first of many, many happy camper sessions!!!
With smiles and deep appreciation,
Randi Crocker (Scott and Jonah, too)
“So many gifts…so many”
I have meant to write for many weeks to thank you so much for the good care you took of Anya this summer. It was incredibly clear that she was well-loved and nurtured by the many incredible people at camp. I saw signs of beautiful growth from the moment I arrived to pick her up. We were walking out of the dining hall and a child was standing at the top of the steps with a really big suitcase. Anya walked over and said, “could you use a hand?” and proceeded to pick up the suitcase and walk it to the girl’s car. It was obvious that she had just spent 4 weeks among people who value community and caring for one another. What a gift to a mama….. So many other things too….the songs. We sat with the songbook every night for weeks after camp, singing and being close as she invited me in to the many stories there were to share. We decided to join the Reform Temple here in part because Anya wanted to go to the Hebrew School there to further explore some of the things that were awakened for her at camp. And we are so happy to be learning and growing with the sweet spiritual community there. So many gifts…so many.
“Where do you find these remarkable counselors?! I am still basking in the warm glow of love”
[In response to the post-session letter that the counselors write to each parent about their camper, to share their perspective on the camper’s experience]:
Wow — this is amazing. Do all campers get these letters? Where do you find these remarkable counselors?! I am still basking in the warm glow of love we felt at Eden Village on pick up day. I cannot tell you how moved I was to hear Leah’s counselors (Daniella and Hannah) tell us about how much they loved, enjoyed and appreciated Leah. Thank you for creating such a special, magical place for our kids. We are already looking forward to next year!
“We were all friends, equally”
We greatly appreciate this wonderful note that you sent us today. Julia still talks daily of Eden Village! Today, when a local friend came over and asked Julia if she had certain “close” friends at camp and whether she did not like gals in her bunk, Julia responded, “well, I really liked everyone and we were all friends, equally.” I can’t express how terrific this experience has been for our child – she has matured and appears more confident. Plus, she likes new foods (like squash!). We thank the staff and Julia’s counselors for all you have done! We can’t wait until next year.
Alisa & Jeremy S.
“The best thing I’ve ever done…I miss everything”
Dear Vivian –
We were so occupied with our family reunion we didn’t get to say a proper goodbye and thank you.
I wanted to let you know our daughter has vacillated all day between being ecstatically happy about her camp experience and completely miserable that it is over. She had a great time: “the best thing I’ve ever done…I felt like I’d known everyone there for years, but when you picked me up it seemed like I’d only been there two days…Can I pick out a special vegetable for dinner?” (a request that’s never happened in our house before). She’s also been very teary: “I can’t believe it’s over… I miss everything about Eden Village… I miss the people there…”
Thank you and a big thank you to all the Eden Village staff for making this first camp experience such a special and successful one.
“This camp is such a reflection of our values”
Dear [Issac’s counselor] and Staff,
Thank you for your thoughtful reflections on Isaac and his camp experience. It is amusing and heartwarming to hear about Isaac through another person’s eyes. Isaac has always been a big personality and a powerful force at home, and it is so interesting to see how his spirit unfolds in a new environment.
Jesse and I can see that he has grown through his experience at Eden Camp. He was most excited about his efforts in Beautification and how he would like to apply it in our home. This is something he struggles with at home– clearly at camp, too– and it is satisfying for us to see him strive to find solutions. Although I would guess that cleaning and neatness will not be a priority for Isaac anytime soon, it was amazing to listen to him articulate his deepened understanding of responsibility and the impact of his actions on the community. Wow! What a change from the power struggles just a few weeks ago! This is a big step for Isaac.
This camp is such a reflection of our values. These values are rare gems in a materialistic world, and they’re really put into action at Eden Camp. We can see the transformation in Isaac. Thank you so much for allowing Isaac to be a part of your community.
“I don’t think it’s even possible to have a bad time there”
[From a camper]
I just wanted to thank you again for an AMAZING summer. I had such a great time with not only my bunk, but with the entire camp too. I had soooo much fun on the camping trip and at Breakneck Ridge, and I wanted you and Yoni to know that you two did an amazing job with camp this summer and I don’t think it’s even possible to have a bad time there. One of the many important life lessons I learned at camp was that no matter what your religious background is, you can still live in harmony with people who are different from you and embrace your differences. I love how everyone at Eden Village is so accepting and understanding and they make you feel at home the second you get there–so you never want to leave!
Lots of love,
Shifra B., age 14
I wanted to let you know that Sophie did not stop talking about camp when she got home. There was no need to ask questions — she just kept talking about all the things she did!
She had an amazing time. She loved her counselors, loved growing food and learning about farming (she explained a lot of things to me, as I know nothing). After we left camp on Sunday, we went to brunch with her camp friends and their parents. The girls started singing camp songs — it was so sweet.
I think you guys did a fantastic job of weaving environmental learning with Jewish practice and beliefs. I didn’t really understand how that would happen but somehow, it did. I also really like that there were many different kinds of Jews there, in terms of practice. I know that for Sophie, nothing felt like a drag.
Finally, I mentioned this to Yoni, but if it’s feasible, you guys should really considering putting together an Eden Village cookbook once camp is over. Sophie spoke so much about the food and I’d really love to replicate some of the recipes. I think she’d enjoy cooking them too.
One more idea: a CD of some songs, or in mp3 form on the Web site.
Best wishes for continued success.
“I’m forever grateful that Madeline had the opportunity to go to Eden Village this summer. Sending her to you was one of the best parenting decisions we’ve ever made.”
Melissa Church, Philadelphia, PA
“She came home a mensch”
She had such an amazing time, and more important to me, she came home a mench. She came home a real grown, expanded person with fuller thoughts and observations.
Jessica Haller [after the Exploration session]
“There is a genuine flow of goodness”
To Max’s counselors along with the whole staff of Eden Village : )
What a treat for us to read your note, it was accurate and insightful.
Max will be unpacking the wonders of this past month for an unforeseen future.
He chose to come to Eden Village because of his interest in the natural sciences, but I think what will stay with him are the relationships that he was part of, and surrounded by, even if he is not completely aware of this yet.
He told us that you, [his counselors] were very caring and supportive, and we can’t thank you enough for being with him, and helping him to achieve the whole experience.
Your last paragraph is priceless, and we will cherish your own wisdom from which the comment sprang. You really got, and respected what you called his “quietude” and that is beautiful. I am the complete opposite, so it’s something that I see in Max as part of his nature, and respect. Max is not the first one “in”, he has always kind of hung low until something sits well. It’s an oversimplification to say that he is shy; I think that you really got him! He is reserved more so.
This was the only camp that I know of where we could feel so comfortable with “lending” him over to grow in a new field.
It was a given for him that homesickness would be an issue, as it is for many, but Max has only had three sleepovers in his whole life before this. He felt determined, and on a mission as he went forth into the camp journey.
We, in our family, have had a number of deaths in his lifetime, and he has also lived through my own battle with Breast Cancer. Eden Village sparkled out to us as an environment that would nurture, and encourage his growth, and we do feel that there is a genuine flow of goodness from the people that choose to be part of this unique, realistic utopia.
To say “thank you”, does not seem to really express the depth of gratitude that we feel.
We have been hearing about so many of the wonderful staff, he speaks fondly of his harvesting time, learning about herbs, and of course every farmer’s favorite activity, Quidditch!
I think also, something that he might not be aware of yet, is the pulling together of his Judaism from the ground up. This I expect will have a very different kind of impact on him when he returns to Day School in a month.
We found the produce section to be an AMAZING trigger this morning for sharing more of his newly gained knowledge of the earth, and he is hot on the trail to whip up one of Baruch’s syrups. The guy at Whole Foods actually gave Max a jar of raw honey to experiment with, and shared his own knowledge with him.
We will forever be so happy that you are all out there building these wonderful connections for and with our next generation.
Judi and Steve Rosen