Hanukkah in the Wilderness
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is one of the more memorable winter holidays to observe in the wilderness. I remember once in the adolescent field, at the camp called “Dr. Seuss” (named because of the many Joshua Trees in the area), seeing the camp aglow with the candles of a menorah illuminating the central Joshua Tree by pack line. Another year, at the “Narnia” camp, a client taught us how to play Dreidel, which was a hit with the group and kept going with juniper seeds long after the Gelt was eaten.
At Entrada, we support the celebration in a couple of ways. We send out a light-weight commercial menorah and a “wilderness” style menorah (made out of juniper or oak), or clients can create one their own. Candles are provided to cover the 8 days. For the first night, we also send out Dreidels and Gelt, and ingredients for Latkes. The handouts below that cover the historical and spiritual significance are also included so that participants can share the meaning of the holiday with their peers.
While a wilderness Hanukkah might not be as comfortable as one celebrated at home, they certainly are memorable, and the stories and positive experiences are etched deeply for all involved.