New Tevya Summer, Same Tevya Spirit

  • As we finished breakfast Wednesday morning, I stood up and looked around the Dining Hall. I knew that our staff was ready. I knew they were ready to greet the 347 campers that would be arriving over the next few hours. After a full week of orientation, returning and new staff from the USA, England, Israel, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Columbia and Hungary spent the last hour before the campers arrived together. I could feel their enthusiasm and excitement. They spent a week bonding as a group, expanding their area of comfort, and learning tools and skills. Wednesday morning, looking around the Dining Hall, I also realized that although it was a new summer with new staff, the Tevya spirit was the same as always. Yes, there was no doubt, our staff was ready.

    Camper drop off went smoothly. Due to our increase in campers over the past few years, we moved from two drop off times to three, and I know that helped. I loved seeing the reunions of returning campers, and I loved seeing how easily our new campers were welcomed into our community. Many parents shared with me that they felt the positive, welcoming energy from the moment they were greeted at the entrance until the moment they left camp. This positive, welcoming energy is the same Tevya spirit that I felt that morning in the Dining Hall.

    After our traditional first day lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and French fries, and then rest hour, camp was in full swing. Campers participated in camp tours, bunk talks and swim tests. Our oldest campers, the Bogrim (9th and 10th grade boys) and Bogrot (9th and 10th grade girls), discussed the “Bog” experience at camp. These campers participate in a training program which focuses on the leadership pillars of collaboration, communication and community building. Each year these campers also help our community by being servers at meals. This year they will be wearing new, bright orange, Tevya pinnies as they serve. Birya and Tel Chai (our 10th grade campers) also spent some time working on the first session banquet, which they plan for the entire camp. They picked the theme for this final night activity. No, I can’t tell you – it is a surprise!

    As I walked around camp, I saw so many happy faces and realized that camp is like a good friend. It doesn’t matter how much time passes between visits, as soon as you see each other, it is like you were never separated. Wednesday just felt like a continuation of summers past, only with new campers. As I walked around camp and looked out for our new campers, I felt the same Tevya spirit.

    Wednesday night we held the traditional first night Department Skits in El Bess, our indoor gym. This annual activity is designed to introduce our staff to our campers. The waterfront staff still does the 12 nights of waterfront, sharing the waterfront rules in a fun song, and the tennis staff amazes us each year by their songs using tennis racquets.  Our petting zoo family made their annual appearance, although this year one of the ducks had a nice surprise for us while on stage.  It got the whole camp laughing, and after a quick clean-up, we learned that even animals get stage fright.  We had a few new skits this year, and we still felt the same Tevya spirit.

    Yesterday we began our morning gathered around our new flagpole area. In the past, our community lined up at the flagpole, boys bunks on one side and girls bunks on the other. This year, we introduced some new traditions to our community gathering time. We stood in a circle as a united community, instead of lines, as we raised both the American flag and the Israeli flag. We continued the tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance outside and added an upbeat version of Modeh Ani, complete with guitars, before heading inside for breakfast. New flagpole, same Tevya spirit.

    After breakfast and clean up, we moved right into our full first day of camp. It was so rewarding to walk around and see the results of the hard work of our staff. I watched a group of Olot campers (3rd-6th grade girls) experience the first session of our new Tarbut (Jewish culture) curriculum. They were learning about values such as gratitude, compassion, and community mindfulness and doing an activity about personal priorities. I participated in a boot camp class, well maybe not participated, but I was impressed with our campers who could wall sit through three counts of the alphabet. The first ever Tevya street hockey elective was held in our new Migrash (Sport Court). It was great to campers experiencing our new curriculum and new activities, and feeling the same Tevya Spirit.

    Every Thursday night we have our outdoor BBQ, a favorite camp activity. After dinner, our Olim (3rd – 6th grade boys) and Olot (3rd – 6th grade girls) participated in Minute To Win It games and our Tsofim (7th and 8th grade boys) and Tsofot (7th-8th grade girls) participated in silly relay races which we enthusiastically call, Meshugena Games. Bogrim and Bogrot enjoyed a campfire on the beach overlooking Lake Potanipo. It was a fun evening for all.

    Today was another beautiful day at camp. Our rocketry class blasted rockets and other campers made dream catchers in Arts and Crafts. Campers enjoyed tennis team tryouts on our new tennis courts, and campers toured Lake Potanipo on paddleboards and in canoes and sailboats. We just finished our afternoon pizza snack and will soon be preparing for our first Shabbat of the camp season. I can’t wait to see our camp community all dressed in blue and white, singing the songs we learned in Shira and dancing under our new outdoor lights. New tennis courts and new lights, and the same Tevya spirit.

    I look forward to a new week at camp, and I look forward to feeling the same Tevya Spirit.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Mindee

2 responses to “New Tevya Summer, Same Tevya Spirit”

  1. Ina Portnoy says:

    Outstanding post Mindee!!! Love hearing the summer is off to a terrific, fun and spirit-filled start!!

  2. Gayle says:

    Thanks so much for all the great details about the start of camp. I’m so exited for camp tevya.
    Sorry I missed you on Wednesday. Savour every minute and thank you for your tireless efforts… it shoes. Xo Gayle

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