Friday, July 22, 2011

‘It's nice to be nice. And it doesn't cost you a penny...’

Late last night, unable to fall asleep, I picked up a recent edition of Sports Illustrated.  The cover story was about Rory Mcllroy from Northern Ireland who won this year’s US Open at The Congressional.  The running theme of the story was how nice Rory is as a person.  Rory’s father was quoted in the story about how he brought up his son: “Raising his only child, Gerry McIlroy instilled this credo in Rory: ‘It's nice to be nice. And it doesn't cost you a penny.’"  While I know that this is a magazine article and that it is edited and that the father probably said many things, it is telling that he chose this particular character trait, niceness, as the one that best described his son.  It tells us a lot not only about Rory but about his father as well.  We can tell what is most important in the Mcllroy family.

Be nice...It is such a simple, easy thing to do.  Being nice is

Smiling and saying hello to someone as you walk by;  

Stopping to help a camper who is struggling, whether or not they are in your cabin, because ultimately, they are all our campers;

Helping someone carry food across the kikar to a kiddush even if it is not from your community;  

Talking to another camper in the cabin that is perhaps not your friend yet and being open to the gifts that they bring to the world; and, being nice is

Making someone feel welcome in camp.

Be Nice...Such a simple thing, yet something we need more of in the world.

In the first chapter of Pirke Avot, mishnah 15, Shammai teaches:

"שמאי אומר, עשה תורתך קבע, אמור מעט ועשה הרבה; והוי מקביל את כל האדם, בסבר פנים יפות
מסכת אבות א, טו

Make the study of Torah your primary occupation; say little, do much; and Greet every person with a cheerful face.  

In other words, learn lots of Torah; turn that learning not into more words but into actions; and be nice to others.  It is not just the Mcllroy family that holds niceness as a core value; rather, it is the Jewish people as well.  

Camp is a place where campers have a chance to hone their niceness skills.  Of course, in the process of improving those skills, there are stumbles along the way.  Nonetheless, camp is where niceness and kindness are the rule, the expectation, the desire.  Our job is to help each camper and staff member get even better at this simple but essential life skill.  

As we close in on the last two weeks of the summer, we see many campers excelling at the character trait of niceness.  We see many that are doing it well.  There are still others that are developing the basics of niceness beyond their own small circles of friends.  In each case, our task is to help guide them on the path to increasing niceness, kindness and goodness in camp and in the world.  We appreciate your support in this ongoing effort.

Shabbat Shalom.

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