9 min read

June Kingswood News

By AllyCKW June 1, 2023

Dear Kingswood families and friends,

As we turn the corner into June, it’s crazy to think that camp has gone from frozen ice the first few days of May to the picture here (above) this week! As the ground has changed from white to green, camp has slowly filled with voices and activity as our first staff have arrived. The water has been turned on, Bowie and Murray are back running around chasing each other, the docks are in the water, and the renovations to the Girls’ Side shower houses are almost done!

In the next week, the number of people in camp will double, and then triple, and by the 18th, all 140 Kingswood staff will be a part of Staff Training! We’ll spend the month of June learning technical skills like certifying all our boat drivers and ropes course belayers, and Kingswood skills, like how to run an amazing evening program and how to help kids learn how to sign up for electives. By the time campers arrive on June 25, most of our staff will have been in two weeks of training, and many of our staff would say by the time the campers arrive they already feel like they’ve known their new staff friends for years. Don’t you just love camp?

From left to right, Ally, Jodi, Mitch, Joelle and Oren.

New for 2023!

Last year, camper feedback taught us that campers love paddle boarding, and want to do it more. We’ve upped our paddle board game this summer, doubled our boards, and added some cool area additions! Check out these new features you’ll see at the Waterfront in a few weeks:

Our new Paddle Board Yoga Dock.

We’re excited to introduce a new elective, Paddle Board Yoga, where each camper’s paddle board will be docked to our new Paddle Board Yoga Dock. We also can’t wait to use our two new multi-person paddle boards for races across the lake! Maybe a new Color War event is in our future?!

Our Waterfront Director, Alex Heaps, with our new multi-person paddle boards (Yep, the big one!)

Our First Staff are Here

Mariana and Angel were our first staff members to arrive, and they’ve been working hard to help us open camp. As members of our Facilities Team, Angel (Maintenance) and Mariana (Housekeeping) have been cleaning, repairing, and preparing camp, already taking care of a million projects like scrubbing the kitchen, painting porches, and cleaning living spaces in advance of staff arrivals. Mariana joins Kingswood from Veracruz, Mexico, and Angel lives in Puebla, Mexico. During the year, they’re friends from home, where they’re both studying to be lawyers at Universidad De La Buap in Puebla. “I’m excited to be at Kingswood and meet people from all over the world!” said Angel, who has worked at two other American summer camps, and says after just a few days he can already say Kingswood is going to be awesome. “I hear the ice cream in Bridgeton is the best!” added Mariana, who has loved getting to explore Bridgton with Ally, Jodi, and Mitch in the quiet before the rest of the staff start arriving!

Angel and Mariana at camp.

Staff Announcements!

This month’s returning staff highlights feature two incredible humans who embody the spirit of Kingswood. Without further ado, let’s meet our June returners…

First, we’re excited to welcome back Beckett Matsil for her 9th summer at Camp Kingswood. Beckett spent seven years as a camper, went through our C.I.T. program, was on staff in ‘22, and is so pumped to be back on staff this year as a lifeguard! Beckett spends her year at Lehigh University in PA, studying Community and Global Health. In her free time you can find her exploring the outdoors, usually hiking or skiing. This summer, Beckett is back at her favorite place at camp – working on the Waterfront! She can’t wait to spend another summer at camp!

Next up, we are excited to welcome Natalie Saadon back to camp for her 2nd year! Last summer, Natalie came as a counselor and she was so helpful at Arts & Crafts that this year she’s officially part of the A&C team as an Art Specialist! She says that after the experience she had last summer at Kingswood, she knew she had to return to experience more camp magic. Natalie lives in Hadera, Israel, and after camp she will be studying Criminology and International Relations at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. You can always find Natalie doing some type of artsy activity, whether it’s ceramics, painting pottery, reading theater, or listening to show tunes. We can’t wait to see what creative projects she brings to A&C this summer!

It’s in the Family

This year, in honor of our 110th Anniversary, we’re highlighting multi-generational Kingswood families in each issue of The Kingswood News. This month we are highlighting Shimrit Black and her daughter Sarah, who will be a first-time camper this summer!

Shimrit spent one summer at Kingswood in 1994, and it was one that gave her memories to last a lifetime. She and her best friend were excited when their parents decided to splurge and send them to camp, according to Shimrit. They were searching for the “stereotypical Jewish overnight camp experience,” she says. Shimrit grew up in Israel and moved to the U.S. when she was only two years old. Her family had a Jewish/Israeli household where they spoke Hebrew, identified as Jewish culturally and celebrated holidays, but when she got to Kingswood, “it was an eye-opener to a new way of being Jewish that was really meaningful,” said Shimrit. Kingswood was one of the key places that started her Jewish identity journey that made her the woman she is today, and she’s looking forward to Kingswood being a part of Sarah’s Jewish journey too. In the summer of ‘94, Shimrit remembers camp being similar to what it is today, “a huge waterfront with tons of green beauty.” Swimming in the lake, playing tetherball outside of her cabin and peaceful Shabbat Services come to mind when Shimrit looks back on her summer on Woods Pond. She recalls hanging out with her friend Julia in the bunk, and eating the candy her mother snuck into her shoes for the girls to try and sneakily eat without her counselor, Bunny, catching them. Bunny was her favorite counselor at camp whom she still remembers being, “super cool. I felt lucky to have her as my counselor and I remember really looking up to her.”

Shimrit was going into 6th grade when she attended Kingswood, which is the same age as Sarah this summer. “Sarah made the decision to go to overnight camp herself,” says Shimrit. After she heard her cousins talking about their experiences at sleep-away camp, she wanted to feel the camp magic herself. She chose Kingswood just like her mom, and Shimrit couldn’t be more excited to see her daughter become a part of a community that is so special to her. As a first-time camper, Sarah is already embodying the Kingswood core values: having courage and showing responsibility by coming to camp without knowing anybody; ruach (spirit) as she cheered to the Red Wagon cheer taught at New Family Night, and getting pumped to make a ton of new friends and be a part of the Kingswood community, which is extra special for her because her mom is an alum. Although it can be scary coming to camp for the first time, Sarah says she is, “​​reassured because my mom talks about how much fun she had.” She adds, “It’s also exciting having the feeling that I could maybe be in the cabin my mom was once in!”

As camp approaches, the excitement and nerves start to get real, but Shimrit knows it’s normal. “I think it’s so important to do things that are hard, and there are so many things about this experience that are outside of Sarah’s comfort zone,” Shimrit says. “I’m just so proud of her!” We can’t wait for Sarah to get off the bus this summer at camp!

Sarah and Shimrit Black.

To honor the awesome people from our past, we are inviting all Kingswood alumni to return home for the magic of a camp Shabbat! It’s time to bring out your camp spirit, connect with old friends and join us on July 28 – 29, where we’ll be waiting for you at the Waterfront for Shabbat Walk to begin. Register here today – We can’t wait to have you! Also, if you’re not yet in the Alumni Facebook Group, join here.

Kingswood Dictionary: Units Edition

Do you know the meanings behind our Hebrew unit names?

OLIM (OH-LEEM) noun. Olim, which translates literally to ‘newcomers,’ is a fitting name for our youngest campers in 2nd – 5th grades. Olim staff would argue that the mighty unit of Olim has the most fun and is the most silly in camp.

TSOFIM (SO-FEEM) noun. Tsofim translates to ‘scouts’ and is our 6th and 7th grade unit. Tsofim campers, also known as ‘Tsofs,’ no longer have required swim lessons and their bedtime is a half-hour later (any 6th grader can tell you how many extra songs they’ll now be up for at Ruach on Friday nights!) In 6th grade, campers leave for their overnight for the first time, graduating from our camp woods to explore the incredible wilderness of Maine.

BOGRIM (BO-GREEM) noun. Bogrim translates to ‘graduates,’ and they are our 8th and 9th grade campers at Kingswood. The Bogrim unit, also known as ‘Bogs,’ take ownership of their camp experience with more choice, deeper programming and projects, and more privileges than they’ve ever had at camp before. Bogrim campers are invited to do special intensives at activities, working at their own pace on developing a special skill or completing a longer project.

CHALUTZIM (CHAL-UTZ-EEM) noun. Chalutzim or ‘pioneers,’ is our oldest unit, for 10th and 11th grades. Chalutzim campers have officially reached the pinnacle of their camper years, and in their last two camper years we want to help them check everything off their Kingswood Camper Bucket List. When camp was canceled in COVID, the #1 question we were asked about the missed summer was if Chalutzim would still have a chance to have Olim buddies, our program that pairs our oldest and youngest campers. Rest assured Olim and Chalutzim campers, this summer you’ll have tons of fun with your buddies!

ZOHAR (ZO-HAR) noun. Zohar, translated to ‘radiance,’ is our program for campers who need more support than what a typical bunk provides. Capped at 15 campers for individualized support, Zohar is for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities, and it’s one of the only programs like it in the country.

Meet the Unit Heads

Now that we’re experts in the unit names, let’s meet the awesome unit leaders! Here’s a hidden special message for 2023 campers: Can you figure out how many years in total our Unit Heads have been at Camp Kingswood? Find Jodi or Mitch on the first day of camp and tell them the total. If you’re right, you’ll receive a special Canteen prize!

With the end of the June edition, The Kingswood News will be on pause until after camp. But don’t worry, you’ll have lots of other sources of Kingswood news, and lots of ways to be a part of the excitement yourself! We will stay on top of providing you with weekly blog posts, posting on our social media and posting daily photos from camp. If you’re a camp parent and you’ve registered recently, click here to view past issues of The Kingswood News. If you haven’t already, follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook, and make sure you’re all set with CampInTouch to stay connected all summer long.

See you at camp!

The Kingswood Team