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Teen SLC campers pose inn the woods, next to a wooden bench.

7 Reasons Trees Rule at Surpise Lake Camp

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Category: Holidays, Why Camp?

Trees! They are certainly all around us at Surprise Lake Camp and we never take them for granted. Tomorrow we celebrate our trees on the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the birthday of trees — which is similar to Arbor Day. Tu B’Shevat, celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, honors the time of year when almond trees typically bloom in Israel. Here are 7 reasons trees rule at SLC: 

  1. Trees are Like People: Trees breathe, eat, grow, age, live, and die. And like children, young trees need nourishment and care to grow into strong, healthy trees. At SLC, we think of our campers as saplings and have created a nurturing environment in which they learn essential life skills by being immersed in nature, developing relationships, and exploring Jewish values. 
  2. Trees are fragile: Like people, trees can get sick. Each winter, we give our trees an annual checkup. We remove trees that have reached the end of their lifespan and have become unsafe. We also take down weak branches. This critical maintenance keeps our campers, staff, and structures safe. Pruning also maintains the health of the trees. 
  3. Trees Provide Shelter: Whether it’s wood to build structures or leafy branches to provide shade, we could not get by without trees. Trees provide “natural air conditioning” for our bunks that are nestled among them. Trees provide homes for the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds that live with us at camp. 
  4. Trees Feed Us: Trees provide food for humans and wild animals. Think about a world without apple cider, peach pie, nuts, figs, and pomegranates. Chances are that a day doesn’t go by that you don’t eat something that comes from a tree. Did you know SLC has its own orchard with a variety of fruit trees? You are supposed to eat spices and fruits to celebrate this holiday, so enjoy! 
  5. Trees are Critical to the Environment: Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). They store the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. They also act as giant humidifiers. In a single day, one large tree can pull up to 100 gallons of water (about half the volume of a large refrigerator) out of the ground and discharge it into the air. 
  6. Trees are Part of the SLC Ecosystem: SLC campers explore the natural world each summer through our Teva/Nature and Hiking programs and through helping at SLC’s organic farm. As part of our Environmental Goals, we teach campers how to recycle or “upcycle” what they might otherwise throw away. They learn about SLC’s environmentally friendly practices, and its forest setting, including the animals that make SLC their home. 
  7. Trees have branches: One strong trunk leads to an endless number of branches which beget more branches and even smaller ones. We think of our SLC community in much the same way. What started as one strong commitment in 1902 has branched out into thousands of multigenerational relationships growing out of SLC bonds. 

Here are some suggestions for celebrating Tu B-Shevat with your kids. Wishing you a happy and fruitful holiday! Chag Sameach! 


Help Your Child Make Lasting New Friendships With Surprise Lake Camp

Surprise Lake Camp is a nonprofit organization that provides a home away from home for generations of young people. We believe in the value of community and friendship. Our Jewish values and identity shape our connection to nature. We’re dedicated to helping young people unplug, grow, and develop values, confidence, and skills to last a lifetime, adding to SLC’s storied history as the nation’s longest-running Jewish sleepaway camp.

At SLC, your child will have the chance to make and keep lifelong friends. Our campers live “10-for-2,” dreaming all year of the two months they spend here with their closest friends ever. If your child is new to camp, learn more about us on our First-Time Campers page.

SLC is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide beneficial camp experiences to as many children as possible. When you make a charitable gift, you give children life-changing opportunities. Partner with us to support camper confidence, growth, friendships, and Jewish identity. Donate today!