Grateful For Camp

  • This week in Tarbut, our campers reflected on the feeling of gratitude. As I think about all that has happened over the past 7 weeks, I realize that this is the perfect value to discuss as we conclude our summer.  We have so much for which to be grateful.

    Last week I mentioned the Aaron and Blanche Gordon Award, an award presented to two of our second-year counselors based on exceptional leadership during their first summer on staff.  Congratulations to Sueann Barsh and Max Ades who received this award, given in memory of Aaron, a dynamic Tevya director and his wife. Our campers are so fortunate to have Sueann, Max and the rest of our counselors as role models and mentors.  I am grateful for the remarkable individuals on this year’s Tevya staff team.

    This week began with one of the liveliest days I can remember at camp, as we opened camp up in the morning to prospective campers and ended our day hosting the Jewish Arts Festival. Thirty families joined us in the morning to try camp for a day.  Our future campers tie dyed shirts and then joined our older Oles (6th grade campers) for a variety of camp activities led by our staff and CITs. At the same time, their parents toured camp with staff and alumni. I am grateful for the spirit of our CITs and alumni and for their help in sharing their love of Tevya with prospective campers and their families.

    An hour after our future families left, buses carrying campers from other camps began to pull into Tevya as it was our turn to host the Jewish Arts Festival.  We chose the theme “Shiru Shir LaShalom – Sing a Song of Peace.” As a community, we are dedicated to being a part of what brings about peace, and on Sunday we did that with song and dance.  Camps Pembroke, Tel Noar, JORI, Bauercrest, Young Judea and Yavneh joined Tevya to showcase their performances. We were happy to welcome the Directors from these camps as well as special visitors Bette Bussel, ACA New England Executive Director; Melanie MacDonald, Jewish Federation of New Hampshire Executive Director; Annebelle Cohen and Jonathan Cohen from the Cohen Camps; and Norma Marcus, whose late husband George was the founder of the Jewish Arts Festival. It was an amazing celebration of Jewish music and dance encouraging personal responsibility for peace.  I am grateful for the beauty of song and dance and I am grateful for this generation of children who embody the hope for a world of peace.

    This week we welcomed many community partners to visit camp. Claire Winthrop from Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) toured camp with representatives from Boston area Temples. It was nice for the Temple representatives to see members of their congregation enjoying camp. They witnessed what I observe on a daily basis: engagement, physical activity, spiritual connectedness, and just plain fun. The waterfront was spectacular with lessons and swim tests. The arts and crafts annex was bursting with energy from a completed buddy bench that sits in the ole area, rockets being blasted on the Bogrim field and our recycled art sculpture that looks like a colorful tree.  I am grateful for our community partners whose support helps connect our children to camp.

    It was also my pleasure to welcome my mentor from the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Lekhu Lakhem leadership program for camp directors. Through Lekhu Lakhem, I have the opportunity to explore topics related to Jewish vision and educational leadership with other camp directors, and use what I learn to enhance the Tevya community.  I have completed the first of this two-year program, and I look forward to continuing to connect with my cohort again this year.  My mentor, Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, had heard so much about camp, and it was nice for him to feel the spirit that I had described. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this educational leadership program and for the guidance and collaboration that helps me use what I learn to benefit our camp community.

    We also welcomed representatives from the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), our partner in the hiring and training of our Israeli delegation. They came to camp on Wednesday, Army Day for our Bogs (9th and 10th grade campers).  This program was coordinated by our Israeli delegation. One member of the delegation is a military expert who prepares Israeli soldiers before they go out in the field. Her experience was especially helpful in showing our campers what our Israeli counselors go through before and during their important military responsibilities. During the day, our campers participated in developmentally appropriate activities where their counselors spoke candidly about their army duty. Our oldest campers were extremely engaged as they were exposed to a deeper understanding of why we work with JAFI to bring Israeli counselors to camp. I am grateful for our Israeli delegation who connects our community to Israel.

    As our oldest campers learned about life as an older teen in Israel, Our Oles and Tsofs (3rd through 6th grade campers) enjoyed a fun filled day of water amusements at Water Country.  Later that afternoon, after Army Day, our Bogs traveled to Canobie Lake Park.

    As we prepared for our final Thursday BBQ of the summer, I saw some of our kitchen staff from Mexico teaching campers Spanish words, while other International staff members played soccer with campers. Their smiles and laughter were so refreshing. I am grateful for the diversity of our community and I am grateful for the joyful learning that comes with inclusivity.

    After BBQ, the entire camp enjoyed the annual CIT carnival. Our CITs worked so hard planning this fun event for our community. Campers enjoyed a variety of booths including oreo races, marriage booth, basket shot, tattoos and face painting, fortune telling and the sponge throw. While I did not win the arm wrestling contest, I did win the watermelon eating contest.  I am very proud of my 8 second record!  I am so grateful to be a part of a community that values leadership and helps to develop these skills in our youth.

    After another active day of waterskiing, street hockey, mad science and ceramics, we stop to prepare for Shabbat which will be led by Birya and Tel Chai, our oldest campers.  I look forward to seeing them in their formal clothes, the traditional attire for final Shabbat, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to watch them grow up at camp.

    And as I finish my last Friday newsletter of summer 2017, I am grateful that I have one final Shabbat in 03033 with your beautiful children.

    Shabbat Shalom,


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