I FIND IT hard to believe that the summer is almost over (at least for our community’s youth) with the school year about to begin. Having spent their summer days filled with family vacations, afternoons hanging out at the beach, playing in a pool, or making new friends and having new experiences at summer camp, our youth will soon be heading back to school. Whatever their experience, one thing is for sure; even though they were not in the classroom, their learning never stopped.
During the summer, one of my favorite activities to do is visit our summer camp, Camp Gan Shalom. One of the aspects of our camp program which I value most is providing campers with the opportunity to learn a new skill or enhance the skills that they already have. These skills have ranged from cake decorating and yoga, to golf, pottery and even ballroom dancing. This summer, campers had the chance to learn sign language. While I was there one day, I was able to witness the excitement in a camper’s eyes when they mastered a new sign. It was amazing to see. And, it reminded me that education and learning takes place in many different forms and can happen pretty much anywhere we allow it to happen.
We can use this as an example for ourselves by seeking opportunities to continue to learn something new. Consider taking an adult ed class at a local synagogue, take a trip to somewhere you have always been fascinated about and learn about the culture and history, or try out a new hobby. Plus, as research has shown, the more we keep our mind active by learning a new skill or exploring a new area of study, adults can have new brain cell growth which has been shown to slow age-related cognitive decline.
So let’s take a lesson from our community’s youth from this summer and remember that learning can take place pretty much anytime and anywhere. While we might have once thought that our education ended at the end of our school days, we now know better. As Leonardo Da Vinci once famously said, “Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”
Jason Moss is the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.