The Magic of Camp
Each year we have a theme for our staff orientation week. This year our theme was “The magic of camp.” We spent the week before campers arrived sharing how our staff can create a magical summer for our campers. As our First Session comes to a close, and I think about all that has been accomplished in 3 ½ weeks, magic seems like the only explanation.
Last Shabbat’s services were led by our younger Tsofs. Our 7th grade campers did a beautiful job leading our community in prayer on both Friday night and Saturday morning. The level of energy and excitement exhibited throughout Friday night complimented the peacefulness and tranquility of Saturday morning. We spent Saturday afternoon with our bunks enjoying free swim and bunk activities. Shabbat came to a close with Havdallah on the basketball courts followed by part two of our camper talent show. Saturday night included an additional surprise for our campers – the break of Maccabi games. Our Israeli delegation announced Sunday’s competition with a video and read the teams for the next day.
Campers came to breakfast on Sunday in their team shirts, ready for the Maccabi games. The four teams included red (Hapoel), white (Hacoach), blue (Maccabi) and yellow (Beitar). Our campers competed in team games including newcomb, basketball and soccer. After the games everyone headed down to the beach where campers cheered on teammates competing in a variety of swimming races. Then we took the racing to the land as the entire camp lined up on both sides of the road to watch the track events. The team spirit was amazing and everyone had so much fun. After lunch and rest hour, we held our first (and hopefully annual) Rikud dancefest. This new camp event was unbelievable and I am so thankful that I was able to see it up close as a dancefest judge. Each team was given one of the four main Israeli dances that we learned this session in Rikud. Each team had to perform their dance for the judges and were scored on both enthusiasm and knowledge of the dance. I had the biggest smile on my face watching our campers, and then I looked over at our Rikud specialists (and fellow judges) Sara and Bella. I could see their pride in their smiles, as they realized that they created this magical passion for Israeli dance within our community. Seeing their smiles made me smile more. The winners were announced during the closing ceremony. Congratulations to Hapoel!
The perfect ending to a day of Maccabi games was a performance by popular Israeli performer Shimon Smith. He had the entire camp up and dancing – it was so much fun!
Monday was a day of basketball games with all 3 of our age groups competing in tournaments. Both our Ole team and our Tsof team took first place in their tournaments. While some of our campers were playing basketball, our other campers were enjoying activities around camp. On Monday night our Tsofs enjoyed an amazing campfire complete with stories, songs and s’mores. Kinneret and Tel Yehuda entertained each other with camp commercials, and Birya and Tel Chai worked on banquet. Our 10th graders plan our First Session Banquet, which is held the last night of the session. It was trip night for our Oles, who saw “Secret Life of Pets” at Chunky’s Cinema.
Tuesday was a regular camp day. Our campers learned conflict resolution through playing games in Israel Education. Bunks in a nature class returned to camp from a hike through our trails all excited because they saw owls. A barre class left the fitness center and hit the road, exercising as they walked through camp. And our Introduction to Videography class learned about the green screen. Every time I take a walk around camp, I see magic in so many places.
That evening our Oles had so much fun building sand castles on the beach. The castles were so creative. I especially liked the teamwork of the bunk that made one of the campers into a mermaid. Our Tsofs enjoyed making (and eating) cupcakes in cupcake wars and our Bogs participated in Meshugana Games.
Wednesday we had visitors from the American Camp Association (ACA) at camp as part of our accreditation process. It was so nice to share Camp Tevya with these camping professionals. We are confident that they were impressed with what they saw around camp and that we will receive positive news about our accreditation in the fall. That night we celebrated with a Siagel Social, a favorite Tevya activity. I never get tired of hearing Steve Siagel sing, “Tevya spirit lives on and on and on…”
Thursday was a beautiful day at camp. The morning started with Tevya hosting Camp Young Judea for a Tsof soccer game and ended with our Night of Tevya Arts. And of course, there was so much happening in between. Our rocketry class had another successful launch today, the entire camp enjoyed our weekly BBQ dinner and we held our first International vs. America staff soccer game. And you think the World Cup is competitive! Congratulations to our international staff who won 2-0!
This morning as most of camp was eating breakfast in the Dining Hall, some of our Olot were enjoying a canoe ride to skunk hollow where they ate their breakfast. Each Olot age group had the opportunity to enjoy this special experience and they all loved the opportunity. After breakfast, we hosted the Tevya archery tournament. Another trophy for our trophy case as Tevya won first place. After lunch we held our First Session Awards Ceremony. Each department distributed awards to a few of the campers who excelled in activities. We also presented 5-Year Mugs and waiter gifts to First Session campers. While we were in the awards ceremony, our maintenance staff delivered campers’ bags to their bunks. It was such a sad sight!
As I left the awards ceremony to prepare for the final Shabbat of First Session, I think about our campers who will be leaving this magical place in 2 days. I cannot believe that First Session is coming to a close already. It has been such a smooth and amazing few weeks. I know all of campers have made new friends, become more independent, learned many new skills and expanded their area of comfort. All of this in just 3 ½ weeks – it must be magic. I hope all of our First Session campers enjoyed the magic of camp and I can’t wait to welcome them back next year.