8 min read

Shabbat-O-Gram Week 7

By AllyCKW August 12, 2023

August 12, 2023

Dear families and friends,

It’s crazy to think it’s the last Shabbat of the summer, when it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Shabbat during Staff Week in early June. In addition to the long-time Kingswood staff members who had been counting down the days till their return, there were staff arriving from all across the world, each with their own story and journey of how they ended up at Camp Kingswood. That first week in the Chapel when I looked into the staff crowd, I wondered what the summer would look like and who they each would become as part of our community this summer. Putting the staff team together each season is one of my favorite parts of camp directing, and in that moment at Staff Week, it’s the first time we’re seeing them all together in person, in that exact combination of the team. Seeing everyone on Zoom or in a WhatsApp group isn’t the same, so it’s always exciting to think about how the puzzle will come together when we see them in person like that for the first time. Who will be friends with who? Who will be the best cos ever? Who will be Color War Captains?

This year, at that first Staff Week Shabbat, at the end of Friday night Ruach, Mitch and I turned to each other and commented on the fact that no one was sitting on the side. It was noticeable because I had never seen it happen before! Inevitably. just like with campers, someone usually isn’t comfortable doing complicated line dances to Israeli music they don’t know, or someone else is embarrassed to not know the lyrics of Wagon Wheel, and they don’t want to be seen looking at the words on the projector screen. Or worse, someone is thinking, ‘What did I get myself into? These people are crazy!’ But no – this year, everyone was up and dancing! Not just dancing though – freely feeling the joy of the music, without regard for how they looked, and not being concerned about the judgement from the person they barely knew doing it alongside them.

Maybe that’s what has made this summer feel so exceptional? Our staff have been so awesome at modeling jumping in and not being afraid to be themselves, and it’s had a ripple effect on the campers. This morning, as our Head of Sports, Josh, spoke at services about his friend Connor, our Soccer Coach, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Chapel, as he shared that his long-time camp friend feels more than a brother. When a community of kids and teenagers can show up with that kind of vulnerability and openness, it makes for an extra-special vibe in camp.

That was the feeling across all of camp this week, starting Saturday night with our outer-space-themed ‘Out of This World’ Gym & Dance Show! By now you may have watched the show on YouTube, but if you haven’t had a chance to see it, you’ll be blown away by the talents we saw in the show. Speaking of watching camp videos, I hope you’ve all seen our weekly session videos we’ve been sharing on social media. Those will also live on our YouTube channel, so we encourage you to show your campers once they’re home!

Bogrim hit the road this week for their camping trips, with the 8th graders spending the day at Old Orchard Beach and the 9th graders cliff-jumping at Frenchman’s Hole. The campers came back saying they had such a great time, and they said while the trip was great, it’s always such a cool, surreal feeling to come back home to camp. There’s something about their beds in their cabins that feels cozy, even if thinking about their beds at home is already on their minds in our final days. 😊

We all loaded the buses Wednesday for FunTown SplashTown, and thanks to some encouragement from the boys of B6, I finally went down the Tornado, which now is officially my favorite slide in the park! I wasn’t the only one overcoming my fears that day, and even one Tsof camper who wasn’t sure if he’d take the leap to the scarier rides was so excited to tell me about how drastic the drop was on Excalibur at the end of the day.

We’ve been making up for lost time with Inter-Camp Games and events back in full force this summer, and this week three groups of campers represented Kingswood. We started the week hosting Camp Micah for a baseball game, and while we lost the game on the field, our ruach and sportsmanship wowed even their coaches! Later in the week we traveled to Camp North Star where we won in Basketball by 20 points, and a crew of Chalutzim campers spent the evening at Camp Pembroke for Jewish Arts Fest, where they participated in an Arts Showcase with teens from camps across New England.

Thursday was the end-of-summer Art Show and Musical, and once again, I was blown away by the talents of our campers. The Art Show showcased works ranging from ceramics to wire sculptures, and there was a whole table dedicated to needle felting, a super-cool new elective this year that’s been wildly popular with all the units.

After walking through the Art Show, we were treated to 13: The Musical. When Amy, our Assistant Head of Theater had brought up the show in the winter as an option, I had never heard of it. She had been in a production in the UK, and she thought the storyline of an American boy moving from NYC to Indiana as he’s about to have his Bar Mitzvah would be a new and different kind of show to bring to camp. I was nervous about how our kids could pull off a show that most wouldn’t know, but I trusted Amy, Ariel, Ben, and the rest of our amazing theater team. Was I ever wrong to be concerned! The show was AMAZING, and all the campers around me agreed that it was the best camp show ever. The cast was incredible, and the theme of valuing true friendship over popularity couldn’t have been more perfect for the end of camp.

Today we’ve been cherishing our final Shabbat at camp, and this morning we had a dedication ceremony for the 110th Anniversary mural we created this summer with Kate Irwin, a local Bridgton mural artist. Starting with design workshops with first session campers, Kate created a mural that speaks to the values of camp and what campers love most about our summer home. Today, each bunk signed one of the feet walking across the painting, and for years to come, everyone who was a part of this session will be able to find their names, signed on the wall of the New Rec.

Tonight we’ll have our Banquet, followed by the Closing Campfire and Awards Ceremony. Given that the tears already started a few days ago, I’m guessing by the time we get to our closing song, Leaving on a Jet Plane there won’t be a dry eye around the fire pit! Sunday we’ll load the buses and head home, and this week’s Shabbat theme of ‘Love and Family’ will be fresh in all of our minds. How can we take everything we’ve learned and apply it to our lives at home with our families there? If an Tsofim camper learned how to be better at compromising with the other kids in their cabin, how can that be translated into getting along better with their sister or brother at home? If an Olim camper came to camp afraid to even step foot on the climbing tower, but now has climbed up the hardest side, how can that confidence come out in other ways? If a Bogrim camper came to camp for the first time and was nervous about making new friends and now has a whole cabin of best buddies, how can those social skills be built upon at school? In just over three (or seven!) weeks, our campers have grown tremendously, and after each summer we hear about how those things – the growth you can’t necessarily see at first through the dirty socks and wet towels – are the things you’ll notice the most in the weeks after camp. Just this week I received a card from a first session camp parent who wrote about her 7th grade daughter, “She is a different kid, in the best way possible.”

While summer is still upon us, as your kids head home, it’s already time to start thinking about next summer. I know for all of us that seems years away, but as many of you know, by the end of September we already had waitlists for many units. You can register and receive a full refund with no penalty until Nov. 1, so I encourage you to take advantage of this by registering today.

For families of 10th and 11th grade campers, registration is a little different, so please refer to the separate email you received last week and be in touch if you’d like to chat about the changes directly. As we age back down our CITs to rising 11th graders (as they were before COVID), we want to make sure the registration options are clear. While CITs will be a grade younger, our staff age will stay the same, maintaining the high level of excellence and experience for our bunk staff.

I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you – our camp families – for helping to make this summer such a great success! We’ll see you Sunday at camp, in Boston, at an airport, or in the coming months at various Camp Kingswood events. Stay posted for our post-summer Parent Survey and Camper Directory that you’ll receive by email, and a bunk photo mailing your camper will receive in the coming weeks by regular mail.


P.S. Are you an alum of camp? There’s still room to register for next weekend’s Alumni Weekend at camp!