Coming to you from a warm and sunny day on the Machaneh (camp). What a week it has been! On Sunday we welcomed almost 90 Rookie campers who joined us for the final week of camp. It has been truly wonderful to see how all of our Rookie campers have integrated straight into camp, embraced all of the fun and joy, and are making new memories each day. For many of these campers, this is their first year here at CSS and I already know that this group of campers are our future. As I walk around camp, I think of L’dor V’dor (from generation to generation) and how their journey at CSS is only just starting. Our staff, many of whom were campers themselves, have grown up dreaming of being staff at camp and empowering the lives of their campers, just as how their lives were changed by their own counselors. An entire new generation of campers joined our community this week and I for one am so excited for their Schechter journeys and to watch them grow from camper to counselor and beyond.
So many wonderful things have happened at camp this week. On Monday night, our Shorashim and Garinim campers took part in a Lip Sync Battle for their evening program. It was such a joyful evening with many incredible performances. The display of talent continued into Tuesday when the entire camp gathered together for a Talent Show! Our campers took to the stage to show off their wonderful talents, whether it was singing, dancing, acting, or more, I am so proud of all our participants for showing off their skills. On Wednesday, our “Jew Crew” team led camp in a Jewish Holiday Day, where we learned about all the different Jewish holidays in many different ways. Our meals were themed, and we got to try our different foods that we eat on certain holidays such as hamantaschen pizza, blintzes and even food from a Passover Seder! It was a great day which ended in camp getting dressed up as if they were heading to a Yom Tov (holiday) dinner. I loved seeing everyone in their nice clothes, eating a festive meal together and trying new foods, too!
As we head into the last Shabbat of first session, I feel a mixture of emotions. I am sad that our campers will be leaving us on Sunday morning, but I feel so much pride when I think everything that our campers have achieved this session. Each and every camper will leave the Machaneh on Sunday truly a better version of themselves. Whether it has been through learning a new skill, trying out a new Chug (activity), making a new friend or finding new ways to connect to Judaism, camp has transformed the lives of our campers in so many ways and I am already counting down the days until summer 2023! In one of our Shira (song session) songs, we say “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend and together we will talk in the path of Hashem”. My wish for all of our campers is to treasure the memories and new friendships made at camp. Stay in touch with each other throughout the year, keep the camp relationships alive and never forget all of the fun times made at camp.