Someone at camp once told me that it felt like they had done a week’s worth of stuff since they had woken up that morning, and at the same time it felt like the entire week had flown by in the blink of an eye. That perfectly sums up our first full week here this summer. It feels like we’ve done a year’s worth of activities since the chanichim (campers) arrived, and yet I can’t believe we are already halfway done with Aleph Rishon. In the last two days alone we celebrated Shabbat, Havdalah, the 4th of July, had a visit from the Chehalis Rebbi, had a camp wide water fight, watched the US women’s soccer team win the world cup, ran over 20 different chuggim (activities), went on river trips, participated in Hebrew Hoops Basketball Camp, danced through sprinklers, tie-dyed, swam, ate brisket, watched a fireworks show... And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With so many activities and events packed into each day, it’s no wonder that our schedule seems to defy the laws of time! Here are a few of my favorite highlights from the last 172,800 seconds!
Campers and staff cool off with a little Israeli dancing through sprinklers during chevre.
Schechter Alum Sam Fein came back to camp to run his Hebrew Hoops program!
A bet camper zips up to the final platform on the Schechter zip tour during free time.
Make sure to check out this spectacular video of our 4th of July Havdalah ceremony!
Stay tuned for more updates as we head into Israel Day tomorrrow (well, today at this point)!
Wow, it has really been a wild first couple of days at camp! The beginniing of a session is always filled with big events, excitement and lots of Schechter tradition. Our campers have moved into their cabins, bonded with their counselors and bunkmates, joined maccabiah teams, started chuggim (activities), swam in the lake, explored the bog, climbed on the challenge course, shopped for candy in the Schechter canteen, cooked out down at the river, played sports and celebrated Canada Day with conga lines, face paint and a fireworks show! We don’t wade into the daily routine here at Schechter, we dive right into our jam packed schedule on day one!
Check out some of my favorite photos from the 2nd and 3rd days of camp!
Campers pick radishes out of the Schechter ginah (garden). Under the guidance of David Stein, we've been able to have fresh produce in our salad bar at meal times.
Specialist Zach Williams keeps a watchful eye out on the Schechter archery range.
Campers line up to spend there Schechter shekels in the canteen with our boys' and girls' side duo, Matan and Naomi.
There's never a wrong time for a spontaneous conga line to break out, as counselor Emma Bortz demonstrates here with campers and Odedim.
Campers watch on in amazement as fireworks light up the sky over the lake for Canada day.
Stay posted for more daily highlights and special event coverage here on the Schechter blog!
Many Schechter campers start a countdown to return to camp on the day return home. So it’s no surprise that our campers show up screaming and bouncing in their seats as the buses pull up to the Big Leaf Maple.
The first day of camp is filled with momentous occasions and tradition. Campers meet their new counselors and cabin mates, take a tour of camp to see all of the new additions since the previous summer, take their swim tests, hear Director Sam Perlin’s welcoming spiel, sing the Birkat HaMazon (after-meal prayer) with the kind of ruach that can only be found in the Schechter Chadar (dining hall) and sign up for their first round of chuggim (activities).
Here are a few of my favorite highlights from the first day of Aleph Rishon/Bet sessions!
Counselors and Odedim collect their campers as the buses arrive.
Nothing beats a snow cone on a hammock with "old" friends!
One dip in Lake Stampfer and you are fully back in camp mode.
Director Sam Perlin welcomes campers from all over the Northwest and beyond back to their home away home.
We had a full first day of camp and now our campers and staff are peacefully resting in their cabins, hopefully dreaming about the fun things we'll do tomorrow!
Ole, ole, ole, ole, ole!
For some of us, the World Cup is an exhilarating summer-time event we only get to experience once every four years through a television screen or – if you’re really dedicated – in the stadiums. For campers at Camp Solomon Schechter, the World Cup isn’t three long years away, but only a few short months. And they don’t just get to watch, they get a chance at glorious victory and the Cup!
That’s right! Back by popular demand, Seattle Academy Soccer Coach Zac Dykan will return this summer to referee the Camp Solomon Schechter World Cup! Gimmel campers will have the chance to go beyond what is offered in their chuggim (activities) and fiercely compete with their friends on the field. Each team of five players will represent the country of their choice in a round-robin, bracket-style tournament. “I want to make it as close to the World Cup as possible,” says Zac. That means going all-out with commentators for the games, cheering sections for fans to support their favorite contenders, face painting, music, and more!
Holding a World Cup at camp offers a unique opportunity for campers to learn not only about sportsmanship, but the history and meaning behind world tournaments. Campers will learn the official rules of FIFA, how the World Cup works and the country that they are representing. The camp-wide tournament will be a serious, more high-level opportunity for players to utilize and refine their skills and a chance for other campers to support their friends in the competition.
In homage to his time as a Schechter camper, Coach Dykan is running the World Cup on a voluntary basis this summer. "I went to Schechter for over 10 years and it's important to me to give back to camp," says Zac. "My hope is that one of the campers that participates in the World Cup will carry on the tradition in years to come."
So, if you’re looking to be a futbol (soccer) champion this summer, Zac says, “Bring your cleats!”
Soccer not your sport?
Never fear – Hebrew Hoops will also be back again this year! Get ready to dribble and dunk all over the Schechter basketball courts this summer with Coach Sam Fein. Returning for a second summer at camp, Hebrew Hoops weaves together the values of sports and Judaism. Sam’s own positive experience on the basketball courts as a camper at Schechter in part inspired him to create the jewish basketball camp. “Schechter gave me the opportunity to merge the two - sports and Judaism - which is a large part of my childhood memories,” says Sam. Through the Hebrew Hoops curriculum, campers hone their basketball skills while weaving in Jewish Middot (virtues), such as savlanute (patience). Join Coach Fein on the basketball courts this summer during both Aleph/Bet and Gimmel sessions to sharpen your jump shot, layups and team building skills!
Hi, my name is Michelle and I am the 2015 Guidance Supervisor at Camp Solomon Schechter. I grew up in Spokane Washington attending Temple Beth Shalom, participating in USY, and spending my summers at CSS! I was on staff as the parent liaison in the summer of 2012. Work obligations kept me from coming back the past few summer and I’m ecstatic to be able to come back again as the Guidance Supervisor!
I earned my Masters in Education from Gonzaga University (the one with the killer basketball team) and did my undergrad in psychology with an emphasis on adolescence. My professional interests include keeping youth programming relevant, inspiring, and spiritual, as well as innovative curriculum development. I was previously co-education director at Temple Beth Shalom as well as the youth advisor for Kadima and USY.
Currently I work for Spokane Public Schools and I have two freshmen in high school at home (and I can’t wait for them to earn drivers licenses!). My personal interests include anything food related, contemporary food matters, agricultural and environmental issues, natural health, and the study of ancient earth-based roots of Judaism.
I am so looking forward to the opportunity to help our Jewish youth spend a summer connecting nature, Judaism, and our camp community. See you this summer!
Anyone who has spent a summer at Camp Solomon Schechter knows what a special experience it can be. Running and swimming outdoors, playing with friends you haven’t seen in a year, living in a 24hr parent-free, fully immersive Jewish society; there is just so much fun to be had at camp! This, of course, is no accident. The camp staff works hard to make sure that everything at camp is as fun as possible because we know that a positive experience at summer camp will impact our campers for the rest of their lives.
There’s an old saying, “fun ain't everything,” but in our little camp world, fun is the vehicle that allows us to deliver on all of our other goals. If our campers aren’t having fun, they won’t be excited about our program, they won’t feel good about being there, they may not return in subsequent summers and, in all likeliness, their future connection to the Jewish community will be weakened. Studies have shown that attending Jewish summer camp is one of the most influential experiences a person can have in terms of creating lasting relationships within, and continued connection to, the Jewish people. So for us at camp, fun is everything. And guess what? There is no quicker way to spoil fun than the feeling of being left out, picked on or bullied.
So with that in mind, Camp Solomon Schechter is launching a new program this summer that will be called Derech Schechter (The Schechter Way). Derech Schechter is a spin off of the phrase Derech Eretz (respect), which is a cornerstone value of CSS. With Derech Schechter we aim to promote mensch-like behavior in our campers and staff in order to create the most inclusive environment possible. We are aiming to provide our campers with the tools that are needed to identify specific behaviors that can make them feel uncomfortable and the language to help them address those behavioral issues.
The Derech Schechter program is being generously funded by the Stan & Ethel Katz Briller Jewish Education Fund at the Oregon Jewish Community Fund and is being developed in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Josh Niehaus, our Assistant Director, has been collaborating with ADL Regional Director Hilary Bernstein, who provides expertise on empowering young people to act as positive allies for each other. Together, they are creating a host of unique cabin bonding activities, structured nightly debriefs and roleplaying games designed to help campers empathize with one another, work cooperatively and foster self-reliance. Hilary is excited and honored to be working on Derech Shechter and she will be coming down to camp three times over the course of the summer to train our staff, work with campers and help us refine the program as we go.
Derech Schechter fits in beautifully with our 2015 summer theme –V’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha (love your neighbor as yourself). There is a tale of a rabbi who was walking in town with his disciples when he came across a man beating another man in the road. The rabbi turned to his disciples and said, “Now there is a man who takes the commandment to love his neighbor as himself seriously.” The rabbi’s disciples were very confused by this statement until he continued, “We can only hope that one day he will learn to love himself so that he may treat others accordingly.”
There are many reasons why two campers might be struggling to get along or why a group might decide to exclude an individual. By bringing campers together in group activities designed to encourage them to cooperate and see things from one another’s perspective, we believe everyone will feel more accepted and appreciated. Then issues can be avoided, or resolved, before they turn aggressive and mean-spirited. To reinforce this, we will be rewarding campers with bracelets for mensch-like behavior, based on values from Making Mensches: A Periodic Table. This is a wonderful resource that illustrates a wide array of Jewish values and provides a roadmap to behaving virtuously. When our campers are acting like the wonderful menches that they are, they will be rewarded with one of five bracelets, which have values written on them in English and Hebrew (Love, Encouragement, Friendship, Respect and Kindness). Once a camper earns all five, they will be awarded the coveted “CSS Judaism & Joy” bracelet!
Of course, the bracelets are only there to add a little pizazz. But they do let our campers and staff know that we notice and appreciate when they do kind things, act courageously or just brighten up someone’s day. Camp is all about fun, but not all fun is created equal. At Camp Solomon Schechter we aim to fuse joy with Jewish values so we can create the kind of fun that everyone benefits from.
Sam Perlin Hilary Bernstein
Executive Director Camp Solomon Schechter ADL Regional Director, Pacific NW
“Where Judaism and Joy are One!”