It is so good and wonderful to be here! After a year of planning, last Sunday we kicked off our first session of summer 2023 with an almighty bang. Around 250 campers headed to their home away from home, a place that many had been thinking about every day since they left us last summer. For some, the excitement of starting a new adventure at CSS was real. The ruach(spirit) in the air was electric as the counselors gathered at the welcome tent to greet each camper and welcome them home. As our campers got settled into their cabins, chose their bunks, and started to unpack, it hit me that camp had finally started. Since then, I have felt nothing but sheer joy watching each and every camper immerse themselves into camp. I am seeing campers make new friends, try new things each day and they have all started to make memories to last a lifetime.
We kicked off the session on Sunday night with the opening campfire of first session. As the campers gathered around our beautiful new firepit, I led the community in the Schecheyanubracha (blessing). In Judaism, this prayer is said to signify the first time that something happens. Never before had that group of people gathered in that spot, and at that time. As I stood on the stage and looked out at the campers sitting with their counselors, I couldn’t help but feel emotional because it reminded me how special camp is for so many people. We are trusted by you to take care of your children for one, two, or three weeks of the year, and we have a responsibility to create transformative experiences for them and I am fully confident that at the end of this summer, each camper and staff member will leave camp a better version of themselves. Our team of counselors this year is phenomenal, and our campers are so lucky to have a team of inspiring role models surrounding them constantly.
The past week has flown by, and it has been filled with countless magical moments, whether it be Mario Kart Evening Program for Nitzanim, spontaneous dance parties in the Chadar, dancing Jewmba on the Basketball Court or making S’mores on the overnight camping trips. If the rest of the summer is anything like the past week has been, I am confident that the rest of the session, and the rest of summer is going to be our best one yet. For the first time in five years, we are pleased to be bringing back off-camp trips for some of our campers. Our staff have been working on these trips for a while and we have done so with the intention of creating rites of passage for our campers as they grow up through camp. Yesterday, I was lucky to spend the day at the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium with our 7th Grade campers. We had the most special day together, experiencing all that the zoo had to offer. We have so many more exciting trips to come this summer and I can’t wait to share all the photos and updates with you throughout.
As we head into Shabbat, I hope that our campers take the time to rest and recharge for the weeks ahead. Shabbat is such a special and peaceful part of camp and for many, their favorite part of the week. I can smell the delicious smell of freshly baked Challah that our campers made this morning and am looking forward to eating it with them at dinner tonight. As I sign off for Shabbat, I wish you and your families a Shabbat Shalom and a restful weekend, too. Stay tuned for more updates to come!