- June 2, 2019
EAST COUNTY — When Rabbi Elaine Glickman heard that Adam Caldwell wanted to organize Temple Emanu-El’s annual youth retreat this year, she didn’t envision sleeping on the ground in a tent.
She envisioned a night in a reasonably priced hotel, at which event attendees slept in neighboring rooms and spent time together indoors, with air conditioning.
Although she and her husband, Rabbi Brenner Glickman, wanted the synagogue’s annual event — typically a sleepover at the temple — to have more outdoor activities this year, the 16-year-old’s idea to have the event completely outdoors surprised her.
Caldwell’s outdoor retreat, which was unprecedented for the temple’s community, fulfilled two needs.
The Lakewood Ranch High School sophomore completed the project not only for his synagogue, but also as part of a community service requirement he needed to complete to become an Eagle Scout.
“My goal was to sort of bring people who had never really experienced the outdoors and introduce them to what camping is and to introduce them to nature,” Caldwell said.
Glickman — who had never camped before — and more than 100 members of the Temple Emanu-El community spent the night of April 4 under the stars at Camp Flying Eagle, on Upper Manatee River Road.
Eleven Boy Scouts, including Caldwell, pitched 25 tents, which they obtained from their troop, for an event that drew nearly 100 middle and high schoolers and chaperones.
Elaine Glickman wondered how a group of teenagers would handle a large crowd, she said, but as she watched the 10-year Scout zip around the campgrounds, constantly checking with attendees to ensure their comfort, the organization of the night surprised her and Caldwell.
“I mostly supervised, but I wasn’t just standing around with a clipboard,” Caldwell said. “I liked leading it and coordinating with the people from the temple and my troop, seeing everything go the way it was supposed to. I thought, ‘Wow, I did this right.’”
Elaine Glickman and Caldwell agreed that the Shabbat prayer service was one of the most memorable moments of the event, which also included archery, kayaking and other activities.
A campfire illuminated the ceremony and made the evening more unique than any other lock-in type of event hosted by the synagogue in the past, Elaine Glickman said.
Before leaving the campground, the group also celebrated Havdalah — a ceremony that celebrates the beginning of the next week by toasting with wine, or in this case, grape juice.
The event that took about eight hours to put together, between planning and gathering resources, ended as abruptly as it started.
Although the younger members of Temple Emanu-El left the following afternoon, the impact of Caldwell’s leadership efforts for the event left an impression with the Glickmans; the retreat reflected the Jewish community’s mission.
“One of the most important things we can do, not only for a temple, but as Jews, is to teach children — our children — that they’re part of a warm, caring community,” Elaine Glickman said. “We want to foster relationships with one another; there’s something uniquely special about overnight stays.”
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].