There are key turning points at camp that bring smiles to the faces of those of us who organize and lead summer camps or youth/teen group programs such as Camp Wise. One of my favorites is the moment where a group of people realize they’ve had a shared experience or overcome a challenge together – and they come through on the other side feeling more connected to one another and more proud of who they are as a community.
This second week of Trip I was marked by trips off-camp for Noar and Solel and special schedules with surprise carnivals for Ohalim and Chalutzim/Rishon on-camp. As these programs went off smoothly and with such energy and enjoyment, I could feel the atmosphere shift. As groups returned and settled back in to their cabins, the atmosphere of each village felt a little different. More relaxed, laid back, and pure fun. Campers naturally gathered round to make their own campfire and ask for s’mores…a pickup game of football toss…impromptu gymnastics…or just hanging around the the hammock talking about life. It was the sign that shared experience and challenge can help us let down our guard and become a better, ore connected and authentic kehillah (community.
Solel was super proud of their trip to Pittsburgh which included a visit to Pitt Hillel, Falling Water, White water rafting and Rita’s Italian Ice for a treat! We heard many fun stories about the journey in the rafts which were exhilarating, yest still safe! Solel camp back with many inside jokes and and a brand new playlist of songs to sing out loud in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall!)
Noar left camp feeling unsure about their journey to Hocking Hills. After all – not everyone is excited to do some tent camping. Yet – under Danny and Sam’s leadership they soon began to have an amazing time kayaking on the very full river, making dinner for themselves around their own campsite fires, sleeping out under the stars, and then swinging though the trees on the zipline tours. Noar’s trip is part of our effort to help our teens re-connect with nature, learning camping and outdoors skills – and to do so in a fun and accessible way for every skill level. They came back dirty and tired, but had a blast!
Ohalim joined Chalutzim (below) for a surprise afternoon of wet, water fun here on camp. The Rec.field, sports areas and pool were transformed into a mario and luigi adventure game. The big highlight was the creative relays, competitions, and water games that the pool staff designed to the Mario Brothers theme. The weather was quite beautiful as they enjoyed a day outdoors int he sun, on bounce houses, dunking their counselors in dunk tanks, and playing beach volleyball. At night several chalutzim and ohalim cabins had surprise “raids” (pre-approved of course) where they sneaked out and surprised head staff members at various places on camp. We look forward to more of this off-grid sanctioned fun.
SIT’s have been simply amazing. Their dedication, care, and engaging ways with campers have impressed each of us at camp. They are becoming true leaders in this community and are bringing so much creativity and warmth to the camp environment. SIT’s also enjoyed a surprise trip off camp this week to canoeing at Camp Hi in our region. We are do grateful to have a strong SIT program back on camp. There is more excitement to come this week for this outstanding group of rising 12th graders.
And last but certainly not least- ILS has been blazing trails in the Holy Land. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s ILS blog from our campers which details all of their travels in Jerusalem, Haifa, and some of the cities up north. It is unbelievable to see what they are learning about leadership, Israel history, and about independence as they travel overseas!