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Shabbat-O-Gram Week 2

By AllyCKW July 8, 2023

Dear parents and friends,

Earlier this week, the boys of B11 were the first to Flag, eager to have their turn to raise it. A few minutes later when we went into breakfast, they ran to the stairs inside the dining hall to ring the bell. They gathered around the microphone waiting for Rob to start the meal, and then they all leaned in together to lead HaMotzi with excitement. After, as they handed me the microphone, one of the boys said excitedly, “It’s so cool to be on the Kingswood Krew, everyone knows who we are!” I smiled, thinking about the evolution of this new camp club, and what a great example it is of life at camp.

A few weeks ago, before the campers arrived, I brought a challenge to the supervisors – how do we make the task of sweeping the dining hall after meals something that bunks go from dreading to celebrating? As part of our commitment to shared responsibility, one bunk is assigned to sweep the dining hall after every meal. In the past, it was seen as an annoying chore, and often bunks would forget to stay. They’d rather be out having fun then doing the quick sweep, and staff don’t want to nag campers about doing something they complain about, so something that would take 10 minutes ends up being a whole ordeal. So how do we teach accountability while making it fun? Working together to answer this question, the Kingswood Krew was born. 

Now, the bunk assigned to sweep the floors is also the bunk that’s spotlighted for the whole day. They can choose to raise and lower the flags, help lead meals, ring the bell, and maybe most importantly, choose the music that’s played at meals to cue the start of cleaning the tables. At its inception, we were sure only the younger bunks would be into it. But by day 3, the Kingswood Krew had taken on a life of its own, and now it’s seen as a big deal for everyone! It has elevated our sense of community and has given campers a special opportunity to lead and stand out.  

As we move into our second Shabbat together, I’m so grateful for all the moments we’ve had this week for campers to stand out, and for all the times we’ve felt our community deepen. Like last Sunday, which feels like weeks ago already, at our all-camp Lip Sync Battle. Every camper had an opportunity to shine as bunks performed songs on the theme of ‘sunshine.’ As each group took the stage, we could see the family that has been developing in each bunk, the fun everyone was having, and the relaxed smiles on their faces. From the oldest bunk to the youngest, Lip Sync Battle was a blast! 

As the week went on, we couldn’t believe our luck as the rain stopped for the 4th of July! In the morning, Fraser from the Waterfront staff wowed us by water skiing by the swim dock while holding an American flag during Flag! After our BBQ dinner, we turned toward the carnival planned by our awesome 2023 CITs. The night ended with our fireworks show, and everyone agreed it was an awesome day.  

We kept the community-feeling going on Wednesday, when we took an all-camp trip to Funtown Splashtown, a local amusement and water park. The weather was hot but campers remained cool as they navigated thrill rides and waterslides, facing their fears and cheering each other on. After a long day away from camp, Wednesday night was Kingswood Movie Night. Campers could choose to watch Cars or The Greatest Showman and unwind from the day. Those who chose to watch Cars were heard chanting “Lightning McQueen” all night long while campers who picked the musical, were singing right along as the night went on. 

While week one was about learning the routine – how to live with others, where to go when, learning each others’ rhythms and quirks – week two has been about comfort and connection. Comfort around new friends who know what we’re like when we’re at our best and worst. Comfort standing on skis, holding a bow, or performing on stage. Connection with friends who feel like siblings. Connection with a new interest like playing the guitar, sailing, climbing, or tennis. Comfort and connection, both behind the Bog camper’s comment as we came back from Funtown Splashtown, “One of the best parts of leaving camp is coming home to Kingswood.” 

Olim and Bogrim campers experienced that feeling of ‘coming home’ to camp when our tripping program kicked off this week. First the Olim boys left for their day trip hike, but had to take a rain check for their overnight. The next day, the girls had their day trip, and then headed into our woods for their overnight! They hiked to our campsite and spent the night making s’mores and telling stories. While one of the tents got a little wet while they slept, they all came back saying it will be a funny camp memory for a long time. Bogrim returned Friday from their trip to Rattlesnake and Emerald Pool hikes and a New Hampshire Waterfall tour, saying that it was the best trip they’ve ever had! Even the staff said they had an incredible time, and that the views were like nothing they’d ever seen before. 

Yesterday we participated in our first Kingswood Inter-Camp Competition, competing against other camps at Camp Wigwam in 14 and under kickball! Our first time competing against another camp since 2019 because of COVID, it was so fun for our campers to have the experience of representing Kingswood at another camp! We didn’t win, but I don’t think anyone remembers…:-)

This Shabbat we’re led by the mighty village of Tsofim, who picked the theme of Community and Connection for their unit Shabbat. The words of the campers who spoke during services will be on our minds at the Two-Weeker Closing Ceremony, today at Rest Hour. Even though this young group of first-time campers has only been here for two weeks, they’ve embraced camp and left their mark with us. I’m so proud of them, especially those who came to camp anxious and fearful. It’s amazing to see kids walking around confidently who were on Zoom with me in the last few months anxious that they might not be able to succeed at camp.  We hope our two-weekers will take this profound sense of community back home with them, and that we’ll see them next summer for even longer!

Have a great week, and I look forward to filling you in about what’s been happening at camp in next week’s Shabbat-O-Gram.

Shabbat shalom,