Week of Gratitude

  • I keep hearing that the days at camp are long, but the weeks fly by.  As I write this newsletter on the final Shabbat of the summer, I have to agree with that statement.  The summer has flown by. Tonight, our campers will dress up in their blue and white for the last Shabbat evening of summer 2018, and in just 5 days we will be saying goodbye to another incredible summer. As we reflect on the past week, it is so appropriate that the value of our last full week, HaMiddah HaShavuah, was gratitude.  

    All week, as I walked around camp and participated in a variety of activities, I thought about how thankful I am that I get to spend my summers here at camp with our campers and staff.  I am so appreciative of the special qualities that each of them brings to camp.  Without each of them, camp would be different, and I really like it, just how it is. I am especially grateful for our staff, who share the values that make Tevya the strong community that it is. Staff who raise the bar for others to strive to reach. Staff who are so dedicated to making camp a better place, that they come back year after year.

    Last weekend we honored six of our staff. On Friday night, Anoushka Harris and Jamie Gould, two returning counselors from England, received the first annual David Minn Memorial Award. This award, named after our beloved staff member and friend who lost his life this past year in a tragic accident, will be given yearly to returning international bunk counselors who emulate David’s positive leadership and magnetic personality.  

    That same evening, Brett Silk and Leah Shems were presented with the Aaron and Blanche Gordon award. Named after a previous Camp Tevya Director and his wife, the Gordon Award is given annually to two second year domestic counselors who share Aaron and Blanche’s dedication to exceptional leadership and strong character. Mazel Tov to Anoushka, Jamie, Brett and Leah. 

    On Saturday, we hosted the B’nai Mitzvah of two more of our dedicated staff members. Jack Scheman, a Tel Chai counselor and Coordinator of our Ropes Course, and Ben Schwartzberg, a Dor L’Dor counselor and previous bunk counselor and Ropes Course Coordinator, both celebrated their 13th summer at Camp Tevya.  Their speeches were inspirational, as both Jack and Ben shared their appreciation for the impact that our camp community has had on their lives.   

    Saturday night we traveled to Israel without even leaving camp, as the beach of Lake Potanipo was transformed into the beach of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv Beach Night is an annual event organized by our Israeli delegation to showcase a part of Israel. Campers enjoyed pita making, face painting, street art and beach games during this fun evening. I am so grateful that Camp Tevya has such a spirited and energetic group of Israeli ambassadors who are so dedicated to connecting our community to Israel. 

    We were thrilled to welcome fifty families with over 70 children to Sunday’s Try Camp for a Day program. The morning started with our future campers tie dying shirts before experiencing camp activities with our older Olim and Olot and CITs. Together with our current campers, they participated in canoeing, s’more making, field games and rikud (Israeli dancing). While the campers were trying camp activities, parents went on camp tours and had a Q&A with our leadership team.  Everyone met up together to end the morning with a BBQ lunch in the grove. I am so grateful that there are so many families interested in Jewish overnight camp for their children.  

    After a fun day of sharing camp with prospective families, Olim and Olot relaxed around a bon fire Sunday night. They enjoyed stories, songs and s’mores.  We tried something new with our Tsofim and Tsofot for Sunday’s evening activity.  Our younger Tsofs, campers entering 7th grade, traveled to Camp Tel Noar for an intercamp activity of basketball and field games, while Camp Tel Noar’s older Tsofs, campers entering 8th grade, traveled here for field games and Rikud on the dance mats under the lights.  Bogrim and Bogrot laughed and cheered for their friends as they were put on trial for silly things during Ghost Trials.  The campers who struggle waking up were “sentenced” to making the announcement to wake up the entire camp the following morning.  A counselor who always wears nice shoes, had to walk around in crocs all day.  Two close friends had to skip together from activity to activity.  I am so grateful for camp s’mores, sunsets and silliness.

    It was a great day around camp on Monday.  In Tarbut, our campers made posters to share their gratitude around camp. In digital photography campers learned how to use photoshop to alter pictures, making a collage of different images. In Couch to 5K, we ran a full mile without stopping! That evening, our Jewish Arts Festival performers traveled to Camp Young Judaea to sing and dance as part of this annual festival with other Jewish camp. I was so grateful that I was able to see the pride on their faces as they completed their performance. 

    While we are at Camp Young Judaea, the rest of camp enjoyed their evening activities. The CITs organized a game of Gold Rush for the Olim and Olot.  The Tsofim and Tsofot had an intense Shark Tank session, coming up with some creative additions for camp.  The winning teams suggested supplying reusable water bottles to campers and installing bathrooms in the swim shed. Kinneret and Tel Yehuda worked on final banquet, and Birya and Tel Chai engaged in a competitive game called Quest. 

    Tuesday was another great day around camp, and included a visit from Harrell Wittenstein, the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Jewish Camps. I loved showing Harrell around camp. Harrell, like others who have toured camp, commented on the happy faces of our campers. Tueday night was our annual Four Square tournament, a favorite camp event organized and led by Birya and Tel Chai.

    We had another visitor on Wednesday.  Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, my advisor for Lechu Lakhem, came to visit camp and see how this Foundation for Jewish Camp program has had an impact on camp.  We observed a Bog Leadership Training (BLT) program in which Birya and Tel Chai campers wrote letters to camp to thank Tevya for having an impact on their lives. In the afternoon, the Jewish Arts Festival singers traveled to the Greenhouse Recording Studio in Gilford, NH.  They recorded camp songs and prayers that will be shared with our community to help everyone learn songs that we frequently sing at camp. 

    The rain early Wednesday evening set the stage for our second annual British Night. Organized by our British staff, the night consisted of a variety of activities to help our campers learn about the UK.  Booths such as British slang, pin the counselors on the map, Wimbledon tennis throw, and bisquit making were fun for all. 

    Thursday morning, the Olim/Olot and Tsofim/Tsofot traveled to Canobie Lake Park for their final trip of the summer.  While they were gone, the Bogrim/Bogrot had a late wake up and then enjoyed an omelet breakfast with their counselors as chefs. After breakfast, they quickly reported to duty as they got ready for Army Day, an activity planned by our Israeli delegation. Army Day activities included a discussion about dilemmas challenging the values of the army, Krav Maga – self-defense, capture the flag using army moves and a presentation about life in Israel. After the rotation of activities, everyone gathered together in the pavilion where they heard the personal stories from our Israeli staff. Following Army Day, the Bogrim and Bogrot headed to Canobie Lake Park for the evening, while the rest of camp were heading home for bunk night activities. 

    As we prepare for our final Shabbat, I want to thank you for sharing your children with us.  I am truly grateful for the Tevya community and for summer 2018. 

    Shabbat Shalom,


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