December Kingswood News
Dear families and friends,
On this first night of Chanukah, with the heaviness of war still on our minds, we are strengthened by the holiday themes of resilience and perseverance, as relevant today as they were at the time of the Maccabees. As we gather this evening at sundown with our families and loved ones to chant the prayers over the Chanukah candles, we know that we are doing so embraced by the collective strength of Jews around the world.
This month, we have the opportunity to spread that light through our actions, as we teach at camp. We’ve watched as our Kingswood community has shown up in incredible and selfless ways to bring light to others. Kingswood campers were marching in Washington DC, welcoming Israeli refugees in their homes, and even creatively launching local fundraisers (way to go Noah and Adley Rosenberg!).
We talk about the ripple effect of our actions at camp – one kind conversation or one offer to help another person is contagious. We want our Kingswood community this month to cause not just a ripple, but a tidal wave of positivity and good vibes that will spread out into the world. Are you in? 🙂
We’d love to see one thing you are doing this month to spread love and light. Snap a selfie and share it with us by emailing email@example.com.
Save the Date
Florida families, it’s time for your ‘23 Kingswood Reunion! On Sunday, Dec. 17th, we’re coming to hang out with you, so RSVP here to let us know we’ll see you there.
If you have friends who would like to learn more about Kingswood, bring them along, or put them in touch with Mitch at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to meet.
Back by popular demand, we can’t wait to see everyone on Sunday, Jan. 14th for our Boston Camp Reunion! All campers from 2023 are encouraged to attend, and our staff can’t wait to see you! It’s a long weekend, so even if you’re not from Boston, start planning a trip with your camp besties now! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for travel advice, including nearby hotels or things to do in the area. We are so excited to be with our camp family soon, and hope to see you there! RSVP for the 2023 Boston Camp Reunion here.
Fun on the Road
Thanks to all of our NYC/Tri-State area friends who came to spend time with us at our NYC Hang Out last weekend. It was awesome to see you all, and we can’t wait to see you again at the Boston Camp Reunion next month!
The Votes Are In…
Club Bog takes the #1 spot! Club Bog is a favorite Bogrim program themed like a B’nai Mitzvah, including dancing to a DJ, games, and our camp photographers posing as paparazzi snapping pictures!
Club Bog takes the #1 spot! Club Bog is themed like a B’nai Mitzvah, including dancing to a DJ, games, and our camp photographers posing as paparazzi snapping pictures! Kudos to Rob’s Team Challenge, Movie Night, Coffee House and Casino Night for being in the top five.
Coming in in 2nd place is an all-time favorite, Rob’s Team Challenge! Nature Rob led this program for each unit, and even with the staff during Staff Training. Legend has it that Rob has never once repeated a challenge, in all his years of leading the program! The goal is to build teamwork and community in small groups through fun team challenges designed to dig into our four Kingswood core values in one fun and high-energy event.
It takes courage to get up in front of the whole unit to compete in the challenge. This could be balancing a ball on your head and walking through a room full of cheering campers, or being the team member designated to balance legos on their bodies to see who can hold still the longest!
Responsibility is a key part of the program because the challenges require trust. It’s impossible to complete the challenges without the help of your team (your community!) cheering you on with all the ruach (spirit) they’ve got. Extra points are given out to teams not just for their own team spirit, but for cheering on the other teams.
Tapping into Traditions…
Shabbat at Camp Kingswood is a sacred time, and you can feel the pace slow down and the vibe in camp soften as we gather at the Waterfront each week to welcome Shabbat and start our Shabbat Walk up the road to the Chapel, our sanctuary in the woods. A tradition as old as time…or is it?!
“Services were in the Old Rec when I was at camp,” says Adina Newman, who attended camp from 1996 to 2003. “I remember they were building the chapel in the woods during my years at camp. It was so cool!” Although the location has changed, many of the traditions have stayed the same. Some of the tunes we sing to this day are tunes we’ve sung through generations of campers who have added their own flair along the way – new claps here, or a dance move there.
“I came back to Kingswood 20 years later for Alumni Weekend, and a lot of camp is still the same, especially services, which makes the tradition so special,” Adina says.
When she visited this summer, Adina was happy to see one of her favorite Shabbat traditions has continued – campers leading services! “Cabins would volunteer to lead something at services and it was similar week to week,” she recalls. Now, each week a different unit leads Shabbat, and campers can still volunteer for different roles, including leading a prayer, song, or sharing a creative writing as part of the service. One thing that definitely hasn’t changed about Kingswood Shabbat over the last 111 summers is our commitment to being a welcoming Jewish space, regardless of what you know or how/if you celebrate Shabbat at home. We teach that there is no one ‘right’ way to be Jewish, and we welcome campers and staff from all different backgrounds and perspectives. For Adina, this has stuck with her to this day. “At Kingswood you can come as you are and you’ll find your place. It was like that when I was at camp, and it still is to this day.”
Alumni Spotlight: Ran Veichman
“I am the person I am today because of Camp Kingswood,” says Ran Veichman, who attended Kingswood on and off from 2005-2016. Ran was one of those long-time Kingswood staff members who was known to be a jack-of-all-trades, working as the Israeli culture specialist, a boat driver, and the CIT director. He even helped interview new Israeli staff for Kingswood in Israel! There’s no doubt Kingswood is better for all the impact Ran made over his years at camp, but Ran says his time at Kingwood made just as much of an impact on him and who he’s become today.
Ran lives in Israel and works as an executive producer for an Israeli News Agency. Working at camp taught him so many skills he has carried with him into his work, like speaking in front of groups in English, working under stress with all different kinds of people, designing big programs, and being able to learn quickly on his feet. The best example of this he recalls from ‘05, when Ran was hired to teach Israeli culture, but within a few weeks was driving the boats. “I was one of the only staff over 21, so camp needed me to become a boat driver and teach kids how to waterski and wakeboard,” says Ran. It wasn’t just boat driving that was new for Ran, he had never water-skied, and had to be able to teach it! “I had never done it before, and I only learned how to teach these skills in English,” he laughed. “I still don’t even know how to do it in Hebrew,” added Ran. (Note to parents: This would never happen in 2023! ;-))
After various roles at camp, and many jobs since, Ran says that there will never be a job more meaningful to him than living in a bunk with campers. “Living in the bunk is where the camp magic is really happening,” says Ran. Still today, he loves hearing from campers he slept alongside during his time at camp.
Ran says he has been feeling the love of the Kingswood community more than ever the last two months as the war in Israel goes on. “So many people from the Kingswood community have reached out to me, even after 15 years of not seeing them. The friendships I made at Kingswood are so meaningful,” he says.
“The stories I hear from campers about how I impacted their lives is something that means so much to me,” Ran says. Although Ran hasn’t been to his second home in Bridgton in almost 10 years, his journey with Kingswood isn’t over just yet. “It’s not even a question if I’ll be back to Kingswood, because I know I will one day. It’s not even a dream, because I’m sure it will happen!”
The Kingswood family is growing! As part of our new Mazel Tov section, we’ll be sharing simchas, including the birth of future Kingswood campers!
Mazel tov to Maxine and Sasha Czuzoj-Shulman, who met at camp in 2001, and now have two children together. Maxine describes her time at camp as the perfect training for parenting. “We bring a sense of fun into everyday life as parents, just as you would as a CIT or counselor,” says Maxine. “We both have such an appreciation for camp, and we know our kids will love it too.” We can’t wait to see their future Kingswood campers on Woods Pond in Summer….. 2031?!
Do you know of a camp alum who’s recently had a baby? Let us know! We’ll send them a super cool Kingswood baby onesie, and they’ll be featured here in The Kingswood News. Because really, who doesn’t like seeing pictures of babies, like these two cuties below!
Thanks for reading this edition of The Kingswood News. We hope your holiday season is filled with love, and we can’t wait to see what 2024 brings. Maybe a win for the Green Team? A starring role in the musical? A new best friend? Anything can happen in a new year, and we’re confident this summer is going to be full of little glimmers and bright shining moments. It’s all about the light. Have a great 8 nights, and may your light last longer than you ever think it can, just like in the story of Chanukah.