Accomplishing More Together

  • In last week’s Torah portion, D’varim, Moses addresses the people of Israel and establishes a leadership system saying, “There are so many of you, I can’t do this alone.” He appoints judges and leaders to work with him to listen to the people and meet the needs of the community. Just as Moses values teamwork, Camp Tevya also teaches that working together for the greater good of our community is a positive leadership characteristic.

    Last Saturday, we celebrated the B’nai Mitzvah of three members of Camp Tevya’s Leadership Team. Arielle Welch (Waterfront Head), Robert Brown (Chef Manager) and Jessica Henderson (Bogrot Head Counselor) all reached the milestone of spending 13 summers with Camp Tevya and the Cohen Camps, the requirement for a camp B’nai Mitzvah. We are so thankful that these three dedicated leaders are part of the team that makes Tevya the amazing community that it is. Mazel Tov to Arielle, Robert and Jess.

    Saturday night we held a favorite camp evening activity, $1.98. Each bunk spent the afternoon working together to choose songs, costumes and counselors, and then choreographed a dance to perform with the counselor of choice in front of the camp. The evening was so much fun, and the smiles were priceless.

    We saw great examples of teamwork on Sunday, as our Tsofot Basketball team, Bogrot Basketball team and Tevya Tennis team participated in camp tournaments around New Hampshire. All teams played well and displayed great sportsmanship and team spirit. The Tsofot team came in first place in the Jr. Girls Basketball Tournament held at Camp Tel Noar, and the Bogrot team came in third place in their basketball tournament at Camp Young Judea. The annual Tevya Tennis Invitational was held at Camp Tevya and organized by Manu Bilderman, our Tennis Head, and our Tennis staff. The “Invies” were very successful, and the entire camp was excited to be able to support our friends in the tournament. Tevya came in second place in the tournament, and the Tevya Tennis Invitational was a huge success. We are so proud of all of our campers who represented Camp Tevya in Sunday’s tournaments.

    Watching the action around camp on Monday, the campers have clearly settled into second session. It was a picture-perfect day on the waterfront with the colors of sails and windsurfs flapping in the peaceful wind. As one camper reported to me, “I love it! Lake Potanipo is soooooo refreshing in this heat! You should go in too!” (I agree; canoeing to Skunk Hollow is on my summer bucket list). Walking down to Arts and Crafts, I listened to the rhythmic beat of a Lids class. How is it that the campers can already jam on trash can lids and metal chairs with such a coordinated beat? The staff choreographs the moves together with the campers to create and collaborate a fun and enticing performance. In Arts and Crafts campers were making dream catchers and learning to throw clay on a potter’s wheel. A day in the life at camp is a working machine in motion which celebrates the concept of team in every way.

    Tuesday was a great day around camp. Watching the Bogs and Tsofs stretch and then run to Skunk Hollow was quite impressive. This is not an easy run, and it takes stamina, resilience and a group effort to make it all happen. Our waterfront continues to be a beautiful sight with campers rowing boat in tandem, campers getting up on waterskis, and sails being tilled on the sunfish boats. And then there are our new-to-the lake campers, whose counselors support and encourage them to make the leap into the different swimming cribs. I saw two campers being encouraged to walk deeper and deeper, in a gradual and supportive way, into the waist high swimming crib and then take their first few water bobs to immerse themselves into the water. This takes courage, leadership, teamwork, and of course trush from both campers and counselors.

    On Tuesday night, all campers enjoyed trips out of camp. Birya and Tel Chair raced go karts and played miniature golf at Mel’s Funway.  Kinneret and Tel Yehuda saw the Fisher Cats baseball game and Tsofs saw The Emoji movie at Chunky’s. The Oles had a great time at Max’s Country Golf. While it was a little challenging for our program staff to plan 4 different trips, each age group appreciated the alone time to bond as an age group. It was a fun night for everyone.

    While some of our campers enjoyed a Wednesday of regular activities, 30 of our campers headed to Camp Pembroke for the annual swim meet. Our campers swam well and many of them brought home ribbons. Wednesday afternoon was a very exciting time at camp, as we welcomed back our CITs.  These Counselors-In-Training spent 5 weeks in Israel as part of the Cohen Camp Dor ‘LDor program.  It was 5 weeks of making new friends, connecting to Israel and celebrating personal growth, and we are so happy to have them back at camp with us for the last 2 weeks of camp.

    That night the Oles enjoyed Liz Berman, a Tevya alum, who is also known as The Sleepy Baker. Liz helped the kids make frosting and decorate a cupcake for them to enjoy. The Tsofs held Club Tsof and the Bogs watched a movie.

    Yesterday was a perfect camp day. I loved walking around and seeing our CITs interacting with our campers. I knew these teens when they were in Yavneh and Dalia in 2010, and it has been a joy to watch them evolve into leaders taking care of this year’s Yavneh and Dalia campers. As I walked around camp, I saw campers in Tarbut (Jewish culture) reflecting on their feelings about their own leadership and about daily happenings around camp life. They experienced the quiet of mindfulness and meditation, and they led each other in exercises with camp objects and nature walks around camp. Our oldest campers created a box with papers that expressed “what fills your spiritual cup around camp?” which will become a time capsule to open at the end of camp. Yesterday, we also held an in-camp Archery tournament. The participants greatly enjoyed the competition with their friends.

    Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, I spend 6th period running/walking around camp with our Couch to 5K class.  Each week we support each other as we run a little more, and walk a little less than the week before. Yesterday we were successful in completing the sequence of running 5 minutes, walking 3 minutes, running 8 minutes, walking 3 minutes and running 5 minutes. One of the best parts of the class is hearing “you can do it!” and “We got this!” as participants encourage each other to keep going.  It probably doesn’t hurt that I promised them that we could get frozen treats if we were able to run to Dr. Davis ice cream stand during our last class.

    Last night, the Oles had a campfire with stories and s’mores while Tsofs had an awesome lip sync show.  The campers were so funny, but seeing the counselor round made everyone smile. Our oldest campers were in different areas planning and preparing for camp events. Birya and Tel Chai had fun planning this weekend’s 4 square tournament. They have had so many opportunities to work together this summer, and it has been heartwarming for me to watch how their collaboration skills have improved over the summer. Kinneret and Tel Yehuda were painting murals, writing songs, making decorations for banquet and preparing a gift to give back to camp.  Each banquet committee was working together to prepare for Final banquet, which is now less than two weeks away.

    As we prepare for Shabbat, we prepare to end this week the same way we began it: honoring members of our team. Tonight, we will present the Aaron and Blanche Gordon Award. This award is given in memory of Aaron Gordon, a former Tevya director, and his wife, for their long-time dedication and contribution to both Tevya and the greater Jewish community. The award is presented annually to two of our second-year staff members. Recipients are chosen based on their exceptional leadership and strong character displayed during their first summer on staff. Stay tuned to next week’s newsletter to find out which two counselors received the award.

    As a community, Camp Tevya and the Cohen Camps value teamwork as an intrinsic and crucial quality under the umbrella of leadership. We see this as a strength in our campers and staff as they brainstorm group activities, support each other through physical challenges, work together throughout camp events, and help each other grow spiritually. Together, we can accomplish so much more than any one of us could accomplish alone.

    Shabbat Shalom,


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