On Camp Time

  • There is a saying, “A day at camp is like a week in the outside world and a week at camp is like a month.” Although this week has gone by so fast, when I think about how much has happened since I last wrote to you, I can confirm that this saying is true. It is hard to believe that it was only one week ago that we gathered in the Pavilion to welcome Shabbat as a community. After services, dinner and Shira (our song session), we had a very lively Israeli dance session under our new outside lights. With the rain the week before, we were not able to dance under the lights our first Shabbat together, so last Shabbat was the first time we tried out our new lights. I hope you saw the short video on Facebook of us dancing, and I hope it made you smile. I know I couldn’t stop smiling during Friday night Rikud (Israeli dancing) as I thought about the awesomeness of having close to 500 Jewish youth and young adults dancing together to Hebrew music on a Friday night. As we once again prepare for a Shabbat of singing and dancing, I can’t believe how much we have done in the one week since I tried to keep up with those dances under the lights!

    Last Saturday we woke up to a beautiful Shabbat morning and met in the dining hall for our traditional Shabbat coffee cake breakfast. Was it just a week ago that we returned to a previous Tevya practice of having two services, one for our Oles (3rd-6th grade campers) and one for our older campers? The Oles’ service was held in the Girls Rec Hall, with a perfect view of Lake Potanipo. Led by Hannah Gundersheim, one of our Shira leaders, the musical service was engaging and interactive. This service ended a little earlier than the more traditional service for older campers, so they had their own special Kiddush before enjoying free play. After all our campers enjoyed Kiddush and free play, the entire community reunited in the dining hall for lunch and Shira before heading back to their bunks for rest hour.

    With a focus on wellness, Saturday afternoon included a choice of activities. Campers were able participate in either mediation, yoga, barre, boot camp, or a nature walk. After dinner and Havdalah, we hosted our camper talent show. We have so much talent in camp that the number of campers who wanted to participate exceeded the number of acts we could fit into one evening show. Therefore, we are going to have a second talent night, Oles Got Talent, later this week. Saturday night’s show included singers, dancers and a band who wrote and performed an original song. Besides being amazed at the talent, I was amazed at the courage our campers showed as they performed in front of the camp. I am always thrilled at the support our campers show towards each other. The clapping and cheering from the audience made everyone feel like a star that night. The talent show also included the traditional passing down of the song I’m a Little Teapot from a member of Tel Chai (oldest boys) to one of our younger campers, and the traditional big/little sister song In My Dreams.

    Last Sunday was another day of athletic tournaments as we headed to Camp Young Judea for the Doubles Tennis tournament, where Tevya came in second place. We are looking forward to hosting the Second Session Tevya Tennis Invitationals on our new tennis courts, but let’s not rush this session! With some of our campers playing tennis, we welcomed Camps Tel Noar, Pembroke, Ramah, and Yavneh for the Senior Girls Volleyball Tournament. Although we didn’t win, we showed great sportsmanship and teamwork and had a lot of fun!

    Sunday night was a fairly quiet night at camp. Did I really just write that? There is never a quiet night at camp, but as I walked around the different evening activities, I did feel a sense of calmness. A highlight for me was watching Big and Little Brother and Sister pairs working together to make duct tape boats. Although I don’t think any of the boats actually floated too far across Lake Potanipo, the pairs of Bigs and Littles bonded and laughed as they used cardboard and tape to make a boat that had the potential of sailing across the lake. The other Oles had organized free play with sidewalk chalk and sports games. The Tsofs (7th and 8th graders) enjoyed a game of capture the flag and Kinneret and Tel Yehuda (our 9th graders) held a coffee house.  It was a fun, and yes, quiet, night at camp.

    I can’t believe that this past beautiful sunny Monday was just a few days ago. It was a full day of regular camp activities. A highlight of the day was hearing the whoosh of the rocketry class rockets and then looking up as they blasted off the Bog Field. I sat in on a rehearsal of our camp play, talked to the campers as they returned to camp after horseback riding lessons at a nearby farm, and participated in a Barre class, which I am still sore from!

    Tuesday morning, before the sun was up, Birya and Tel Chai (our 10th graders) climbed aboard Coach buses to head to Three Rivers in Maine for their annual white water rafting trip. This age group has been going on this trip since 2009, and this year, for the first time, I was fortunate enough to join them. After arriving at the campsite, we were taken to the base of a mountain for a fairly strenuous hike. The view from the top of the mountain made the 3 hours of hiking worth it! It was truly spectacular. We returned to the campsite, where everyone relaxed and played lawn games before dinner. The evening campfire warmed everyone up before we headed to our little bunks for the night.  Wednesday morning we dressed in wet suits and traveled to the Kennebec River for an exhilarating rafting experience.  The guides excitedly shared with us that we picked the best week to be there because the CFS, usually between 4800-6000, was over 8000. I don’t know if I shared the same excitement about the high levels of cubic feet per second, but I jumped into the raft anyway. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the intentional, and unintentional, swim opportunities! We came back to the campsite for a BBQ lunch before heading back home. While I loved the rafting, the highlight was getting to spend such quality time with this amazing group of campers. One of the campers and I reminisced about how she cried to me every day for a week because she wanted to go home when she was a middle Olot (5th grade).  She laughs about it now that she is in her final summer as a camper, and is thankful that she stayed!

    A few hours after Birya and Tel Chai left for their overnight, Kinneret and Tel Yehuda (our 9th graders) boarded their buses headed to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center where they also went on a hike and played field games. After a fun evening of bonding as an age group, they woke up the next morning and spent the day at Attitash Alpine Slides in Bartlett, New Hampshire.

    With 100 Bogs out of camp, the rest of our campers continued to have fun. Tuesday morning started with an omelet breakfast. The schedule for the rest of the day included special bunk activities, including a Path to Rhythm drumming program. Campers enjoyed learning about different types of drums and drumming techniques, and the program provided a great opportunity for our campers to lead their peers in music. Tuesday night we had a visit from a Tevya favorite, Siagel Productions. The Siagel Game Night included a dance party, life size video games, a photo booth and a glow ping pong table. Thank you to alumni Michael Siagel, and the Siagel family for making the night so fun for our community.

    And, don’t worry, the fun continued into Wednesday when the Oles and Tsofs traveled to Canobie Lake Park for a trip of their own.

    After a week of trips, the late wake-up due to rain was welcomed on Thursday morning. Campers enjoyed the singing in the dining hall and although we made and stopped the rain during breakfast, we could not stop the morning rain outside.  We tried to keep as many of our activities running as possible. Activities like Arts and Crafts, Jewish Cooking and Videography could still meet in rainy day locations. While campers in athletics and waterfront activities played games inside, we save our life-size scrabble game for rainy days, and it was so much fun for campers to use. Campers in swim class saw a video about water safety and chants of “Don’t just pack it, back it,” related to PFDs (personal flotation devices) could be heard the rest of the afternoon. It did clear up in the afternoon, and more activities ran as usual.

    Last night, 18 of our international staff members coordinated our first, and now traditional, British Night. Campers moved from station to station learning about the UK. Stations included making a British Flag, Proper English (learning how the US and the UK use different words), Penalty Shot (you say football, we say soccer), Tea and Scones, Pin the staff on the map (a geography lesson about where our staff come from) and Do you know your royalty?  Our amazing international staff worked so hard on this event and it was so much fun!

    This morning was game day with Camp Young Judea, and then regular programming this afternoon.

    As I get ready for Shabbat and think about all that has happened in a week, I feel like it has been a month since I last wrote.  It doesn’t seem possible that so much could be accomplished in just one week.

    Until next month… I mean next week… Shabbat Shalom!

    With Tevya Spirit,


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