Shabbat-O-Gram Week 2

By AllyCKW July 8, 2022

Dear parents and friends,

Most kids I see around camp LOVE camp. They love the environment, they live for their counselors, and they spend each day having more fun than they did the day before. Everything is awesome, and if one meal isn’t great or it rains two days in a row, it doesn’t even faze them, because, well, it’s camp! I was one of these campers, and if it had been my choice, I would have just stayed at camp all year long (shocking, I know). But, as hard as this would have been for my 12-year-old self to believe, not everyone feels this way. For some kids, camp doesn’t always feel so great at the beginning, and it takes a little bit of time to get the hang of it. It’s at this point of the session – almost to the end of week 2 – that these very same campers are walking around with huge smiles on their faces, totally absorbed into camp life, shocked at how quickly the last week has flown by. Watching this transformation happen for a camper is one of my favorite parts of being a camp director. It’s like you’re actually watching their confidence expand. As if you’re watching a plant grow in slow motion on the Discovery Channel. The same camper who was crying through arts and crafts on day 3 was up on stage yesterday cracking up with her friends as they did a skit for evening program. The same boy who sat with his hands over his ears during a song session on day 2 and swore he would NEVER like it, was up dancing during lunch the other day clapping and yelling. These moments – when a camper lets down their guard and literally grows taller in front of you – have been happening all over camp, all week long, and not just for our younger, newer campers. Just ask the Tsofim camper who overcame her lifelong fear of heights this week to get to the top of the tower, telling her counselor that it just seemed like the right time to try.

It’s been that kind of a week here, and it’s been amazing! The days have been sunny and warm, providing the perfect backdrop for camp fun. All across camp there are cool things going on, whether it’s the beginner’s guitar elective learning The Beatles, or campers in pottery throwing bowls on the pottery wheels.  The campers in Rock Band will be performing in the next few days, and tonight some campers from the guitar elective will be joining our song leaders to play along for Shabbat Walk.  At sports electives kids are improving their skills and getting ready for this Saturday’s tournaments, and the campers in gymnastics, dance and martial arts are getting ready for the Gym & Dance Show tomorrow night. Chalutzim and Bogrim campers just chose their electives for the last round of activities of first session starting on Sunday, and Olim and Tsofim chose their last electives yesterday. Lots of campers said it was hard to choose because there are so many great options!

The week started last Saturday night with an all-camp Talent Show, and Sunday was a highlight for everyone as we celebrated the 4th of July with an incredible carnival! The CITs did an amazing job planning and leading the whole program, and I’m sure you could see in the photos that the shave a balloon station quickly dissolved into a giant shaving cream fight! The dunk tank was definitely a fan favorite, and you would have thought that campers were practicing their aim all week with the number of staff who landed in the water. The night ended with a fantastic fireworks show, and the general consensus was that it was the coolest fireworks show most of our campers had ever seen!

The Chalutzim and Bogrim campers were off camp this week for their trips, and despite a rainy night, they came back with incredible pictures and stories. The 8th graders headed to Stow, Maine, where they hiked, swam and cliff jumped at Emerald and Rattlesnake Pools, and the 9th graders hiked the beautiful waterfalls around Ripley Falls and Arethusa Falls. Both Bogrim grades were back in regular camp programming by Wednesday afternoon. The Chalutzim campers were gone for two nights on the coast of Maine, with the 10th graders learning how to boogie board around Kennebunkport, and the 11th graders hiking, rock climbing, and playing at the beach near Bar Harbor. Leaving camp is always an adventure, but it’s great to hear campers say they’re happy to be ‘home’ when they come off the buses at the end of their trip.

Tomorrow in addition to all the Saturday fun planned, we’ll have a special 2-Weeker Goodbye Ceremony where campers will be presented with awards from their staff and share their favorite camp memories. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but we can’t wait to see them back next summer for a full session!

Tonight, Bogrim will be leading Shabbat, and after services and a delicious Shabbat dinner, we’ll all gather outside the Old Rec for Ruach, our Friday night song/dance/cheer session. While we’re outside because of COVID instead of doing Ruach indoors as usual, campers have said when it’s this warm and sunny out, they actually like it better outside because it’s not so hot. As you probably saw in last week’s Shabbat pictures, Ruach is a favorite time here for campers and staff, no matter where we’re dancing!

Before I go get ready for Shabbat, I want to share a moment I saw yesterday during chofesh after dinner at the gaga pit. It was a super intense game, and as the players got out one by one, they jumped out of the gaga pit to stand on the side and watch. Finally, it was down to two players. One player was a 5th grader who’s one of the older campers in the unit who’s known as what one might call a gaga connoisseur. The other final player was a new camper, who’s one of the youngest and smallest. Standing and watching, there was no question in anyone’s mind which way this game was going to end. But, as the ball slowly rolled toward the 5th grader’s leg, instead of dodging it, as he easily could have done, he let it hit his leg, getting himself out – not an easy choice for this particular camper. He made a BIG deal about the other camper winning, and then walked over to shake his hand. The crowd of campers around the gaga pit erupted in cheering, and the camper who won beamed as if they had just won the Olympics. It was such an awesome moment, and around this time of the session, these moments are happening all over camp. I look forward to writing again next week to share more.

Shabbat shalom,