Schechter Spotlight

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August 5, 2022
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Shalom everyone,

I can’t believe we are about to celebrate our last Shabbat of second session and the last Shabbat of summer ‘22! This week has flown by and what a week it has been.

On Wednesday we welcomed around 70 new Rookie Campers to join us for the last week of the session. It has been so wonderful to see all of our Rookie Campers throw themselves into camp and they are enjoying every single minute. On Wednesday night we kicked off their week with an opening campfire where we sang songs and representatives from each cabin came up to the fire and made a wish for something they hope to come true this week. It was such a blessing to hear the Rookie Campers tell us what they are excited for and hope to come true. After they made their wishes, they threw a stick into the fire in the hope that their wish comes true as the fire burns the stick. The campers have already made so many new memories and friendships, and I can’t wait for what lies ahead this week for all of them.

As we approach the end of this summer, I find myself feeling a mixture of emotions. One part of me is so sad that this incredible summer is about to come to an end. This truly has been the summer of a lifetime and I am so proud of everything that our campers and staff have accomplished. Every person who has entered the gates of camp this summer, has left a better version of themselves. I have seen people grow in confidence, learn new skills, make new friends to last a lifetime, explore their Jewish identities and so much more. Yet, on the other hand, I am so enthusiastic and excited about the future of Camp Solomon Schechter. I cannot wait until all of our campers are back on the Machaneh (camp) next summer and I’m counting down the days until the first day of first session 2023! My wish for all of our campers is to keep the memories from camp alive as they return home and go back to their regular lives. Keep talking about the fun times they had at camp this summer, the friendships they made, the times they laughed until they cried and all of the happiness they found here at camp. Take it home, share it with a friend, with their families and camp will stay in their hearts and minds each and every day until next summer.

For now, I have to go get ready to celebrate the last Shabbat with our wonderful camp community. I can’t wait to go to services, get tucked into a delicious meal and sing the night away at Shira (song session). The final days of the session are going to be incredible, and I can’t wait to spend it with all of our campers. The countdown is on until registration opens for summer 2023!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Adam


August 1, 2022
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This year I had the privilege of going on the Gesher Israel Program. In this program we were partnered with Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) to go on a month-long travel through the Holy Land. We started in Ein Gedi and we ended in the Golan in a kibbutz called Ayelet Hashachar. For me, this was an eye-opening experience into the different types of Jewish people who live around the world. I have never travelled to Israel before so it was an amazing experience being able to see how one can live as a Jew openly and proudly. I have always wanted to join the army but visiting Israel was the confirmation I needed. My favorite place we visited in Israel was the Golan Heights. We visited one of the last handmade shoemakers in all of Israel and we visited Tzfat and the beautiful shul there. Overall, I could not have asked for a better Israel experience, and I am so glad I got to share it with my Schechter friends and community!


July 29, 2022
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Shalom everyone!

What a week it has been! Our Session 2 campers have already been here for over a week and time is flying by. Despite the heat wave that we’ve been experiencing this week, camp has been alive and filled with ruach (spirit) and our campers are having the most unforgettable summer. As the days go past, I see our campers becoming more confident, making new friendships and memories and ultimately becoming better versions of themselves.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of going to the airport to welcome back our wonderful Gesherim campers who had spent that last four weeks traveling Israel. Even though they had just been traveling for over 20 hours back to Seattle, their faces radiated with joy as the bid farewell to their friends after an amazing trip together. Our Gesherim embarked on a journey where they got to see first-hand and learn about the many different facets that contribute to the land of Israel. The group managed to hit several different cities across the country. They got to explore the urban, metropolitan city of Tel Aviv, learn about the religious diversity of Jerusalem, climb Mount Masada, snorkel in Eilat, spend time with the Bedouin community, meet with charities such as Save a Child’s Heart, a non-profit that supports the quality of pediatric cardiac care in Israel, and so much more. For many, this was their first visit to Israel and this phenomenal experience allowed all of the Gesherim to explore the homeland of the Jewish people and build a love for the State of Israel, which is one of Camp Schechter’s values. I am so excited to see what the Gesherim learned on their trip and how they bring this wealth of knowledge back to their home communities and specially to camp next summer when our Gesherim join us as staff.

I want to give a special shout out to the Gesherim’s Madricha (counselor), Or Chen Worcman who traveled with the group and supported them with their learning and bonding as a community. I hope that our group enjoys catching up on their sleep now that they are home, takes time to reflect on all of the happiness they found on the trip, and starts to get excited about becoming counselors in summer ’23!

Otherwise in camp, we have been having an incredible time. On Wednesday and Thursday, the whole of camp participated in Maccabiah (color war). Our four teams competed for the coveted title of Maccabiah champions, and it was the Miriam/Green team, who were victorious! Mazal Tov (congratulations) to the Miriam/Green team and a big Kol Ha’kavod (well done) to each and every camper for participating and making the most of Maccabiah. We have so much more to come in the next two weeks of camp and I am so excited for everything that is to come. I am so proud of everything that our counselors and staff have been doing to support our campers and I know just how much they are changing their lives for the better.

As we head into Shabbat, I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and look forward to updating you next week on all of the exciting and fantastic things that will take place in camp next week.

Love from Lake Stampfer,

Adam


July 15, 2022
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Shalom everyone!  

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.  

Shabbat Shalom! 

Adam  


July 8, 2022
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Shalom everyone!

It is so good and wonderful to be here! It has been such a joy to have spent the past almost two weeks with our campers. It’s hard to believe that we are over the halfway mark of first session, the days are flying by! We have been having so much fun as a community, our campers have been making new friends every day, trying out new activities and making memories to last a lifetime. Our counselors are constantly shining in their roles across camp. They are truly the key to all of the successes at camp and their efforts to ensuring that each camper has the most memorable summer have been astonishing. Each day as I walk through camp, I see counselors crying in laughter with their campers, sharing stories, singing songs and getting stuck into many activities. I know that our counselors are changing the lives of our campers for the better and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Over the last two days, our campers have been participating in Maccabiah and boy has it been a blast! Our four teams; Red, Green, Blue, and Purple, competed for the coveted titles of Maccabiah champions. On Wednesday afternoon we participated in a relay race across the entire camp. It was a close call but eventually it was Team Purple who were victorious. We also participated in different sports events, cheer competitions, water sports, and even a silent lunch, all to win more points for their teams. After an incredible two days competing, it was Team Red who won! Mazal Tov (congratulations) to the winning team and Kol Ha’Kavod (well done) to all of our campers for their hard work and enthusiasm during Maccabiah.

In addition to Maccabiah, our campers have participated in many other exciting programs. Our Theater Chug performed a wonderful play of The Sword in the Stone with over 40 campers acting in the show. It was incredible to see the abundance of talent that was shown, and I am so proud of each and every one of the. Elsewhere in camp we had a Lip Sync Battle for our Nitzanim and Anafim campers, and our Shorashim campers participated in Science Night with lots of exciting different experiments such as making volcanic eruptions and even a Cooking Night where they got to show off their best cooking skills and present their dishes to a panel of judges. The ruach (spirit) in camp has been electric and there is so much more to come!

As we enter our final week of the session, we say ‘see you soon’ to our combo campers and are already counting down the days until we see them back on the Machaneh next year! We miss you already! On Sunday we will be welcoming almost 90 new rookie campers who will be joining us for the last week of the session. I am so excited to meet all of them and for everything that lies ahead in their journeys here at camp. The saying goes that at Jewish summer camp “you get to be the best version of yourself” and it could not be truer here at CSS. I see campers becoming more confident in themselves every day, trying out new things, learning new skills, learning more about their Jewish identities and so much more. We have so much more to come this summer and I can’t wait for everything that lies ahead.

It’s almost time for Shabbat so I have to go and get myself ready for Kabbalat Shabbat services!

Love from Lake Stampfer,

Adam


February 11, 2019
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This week we honor an individual who has done so much for our camp community, despite never having attended Schechter as a camper or counselor. Rabbi Jonathan Infeld is the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver, BC. Rabbi Infeld is married to Lissa Weinberger, who serves as camp’s Maschgicha (kosher authority) during the summer. Rabbi and Lissa send their three children Avishai, Yair and Naomi to camp as well! During the summer Rabbi Infeld can be found telling Shabbat stories, teaching Jewish values, playing with campers… He even won a dance-off in the chadar ochel (dining hall)! Rabbi Infeld truly embodies the camp ruach (spirit).

In addition to being a great advocate for CSS in Vancouver, Rabbi Infeld makes time every week to skype with camp leadership and review Jewish texts and liturgy. Rabbi Infeld is an inspiring storyteller, a committed Jewish educator, and a true friend of Camp Solomon Schechter. Without further ado, here is our spotlight on Rabbi Infeld!

CSS: How long have you been involved with Schechter?

Rabbi Infeld: Lissa and I, along with our two boys (Naomi had not yet been born), came to camp a few weeks after we arrived in Vancouver in 2006 for a USY Kinnus convention. Then of course we were at CSS the following summer.  We have tried to make it to camp almost every summer since then.  Some summers we have been at camp for just a few days. Other summers we have had the blessing of spending a number of weeks at camp.

We have come as parents of our children Avishai, Yair, and Naomi.  Lissa has worked as the Maschgicha.  I have come as both the Rabbi of Beth Israel in Vancouver and served as a Rabbi-in-residence at camp.

CSS: What do you love about spending time at camp?

Rabbi Infeld: I love having an opportunity to spend meaningful time with my family, congregants, and Jewish children from around the Pacific Northwest in a Jewish utopia. I love seeing Jewish children excited to be in such a wonderful environment that enriches their Jewish knowledge and identity. I love working with great staff who are dedicated to our children!

CSS: What is your favorite memory from your time at camp?

Rabbi Infeld: Playing Gaga on Shabbat.

CSS: We recently announced our 2019 summer theme, Jewish Superheroes! Can you tell us about a hero of yours, and why they mean so much to you?

Rabbi Infeld: Solomon Schechter is my favourite Jewish hero. We named our camp after him for a good reason. He was an adventurer, risk taker, organizer, innovator and scholar. These are great attributes for a person to have.

CSS: What is your favorite camp meal?

Rabbi Infeld: I love camp breakfast. There is nothing like eggs, potatoes, and cottage cheese to get one through the day.

CSS: Tell us a fun fact that people might not know about you.

Rabbi Infeld: I met my wife Lissa in a parking lot at the University of Pennsylvania. We were both leaving an orientation program for students from the East Coast who were about to spend their junior year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


November 29, 2018
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Few people have dedicated as much of their time, energy, heart, blood, sweat, and tears, to Camp Solomon Schechter as Mike Schiller. Mike first arrived on the Schechter scene back in 1973 and he continues to be an integral part of the CSS community. Mike has dabbled in just about every aspect of camp life, first as a camper and Oded, and later as a kitchen staff, board member, Open House Chair, 60th Gala Chair, and camp parent. Mike’s two children, Karli and Marcus, worked at CSS last summer, and his family sponsored a cabin in honor of Mike’s mother, Babette Schiller, a longtime supporter of CSS (look for Bubbe’s Bunk on the boys side!). As if all that wasn’t enough, Mike just donated a new electric boat to camp last week, so we can get around our new aqua park more quickly. We sat down with Mike to find out why he has dedicated so much of his energy to supporting CSS.

CSS: How did your Schechter journey begin?

Mike: I started out as an Aleph camper back in 1973. Back then, there were certain age crossovers that made it possible to go for two sessions in one summer. I always went to two sessions when I could, as I had friends from multiple age groups. In fact, I was an Oded in 1980 and oddly stayed on after the Oded program ended and attended Gimmel session as a camper. That was a bit weird as I was friends with all the staff. But I didn’t want to miss out on time at camp!

In 1982, I worked as the camp cook (I didn’t plan meals, I just cooked them).  It was a hard summer as I was up at 5:00 AM everyday, and didn’t leave the kitchen until after evening dishes were done.

CSS: Wow! That sounds like a long day. I’m surprised you still wanted to give more time to CSS after that! When did you join the board?

Mike: I joined the board in 1991, and served for fifteen consecutive years. I left the board in 2016, and today I am just happy to be a camp parent, as both of my kids now work at camp. Karli was the Mental Health Professional at camp last summer, and Marcus was the Sports Director.

CSS: Tell us about a favorite memory or two from your years as a camper.

Mike: I loved just sitting on the hill and hanging out with friends. I also loved that moment when the bus first arrived at camp, and you would run down to the office to see what cabin you were in.

CSS: How has CSS impacted your life?

Mike: I found my Jewish identity at camp. It wasn’t about learning about Judaism, it was about immersing myself into Judaism. I didn’t love services, or some of the “classes”, but I did love being surrounded by Jewish youth from all over the region. Shabbat was special and the evening ruach sessions made me love and appreciate my culture. I am still extremely close with campers I met in 1973. Camp is and will always remain an important part of my life. (And I hope, some day, my grandkids’ lives!) Today, one of the Boy’s Side cabins is dedicated to my Mom. It will forever be Bubbe’s Bunk.

Thanks Mike and we can’t wait to see you at camp next summer!

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October 25, 2018
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This week we take a look at a truly beloved member of the community and champion of CSS, Karen Twain! Karen began her CSS journey at the age of eight, and never missed a year as a camper thereafter. Karen went on to be a counselor, sports director, board member, board president and camp parent! Karen is now in her eleventh year as a CSS board member. We are so grateful for her continued support, advice and ruach (spirit). We asked Karen to share some of her favorite memories of her time at CSS.

CSS: How did your CSS journey begin?

KT: My mom and dad decided to send me to Schechter when I was eight, which was the best parenting decision ever made! I won the Bible Quiz at Neveh Shalom (I think I answered one or two questions right) and received a small scholarship to go to camp. I never looked back. I went every year I could as a camper and then I was a counselor and the sports director.

CSS: What are some of your favorite memories from your camper years?

KT:  I loved the ruach sessions. I loved hearing the bell ring and running to the canteen for ice cream. And, of course, dominating on basketball courts and in the gaga pits!

CSS: Did you have a favorite staff member?

KT: I am eternally grateful to my mentor Rabbi Stampfer for having the vision for CSS – where Judaism and joy are one!

CSS: Now, as an alumni, board member and camp parent, what do you appreciate about your CSS journey?

KT: I had many life-changing events at CSS – my first kiss, learning to read Hebrew, having an impromptu Bat Mitzvah, becoming a leader, and establishing a lifelong community. My closest friends are from camp and we have remained tight-knit for over 40 years. We attend each others life events – births, b’nai mitzvot, weddings, funerals – and even an occasional road trip together. In fact, two of my best friends from camp were the witnesses at my wedding. After they signed the ketubah (before the actual ceremony), we broke into a ruach session that sounded like Shabbat at camp! My kids, Marian and Oliver, have gone to camp since they were eight years old and have recently been on staff. They have established the same kind of community that I had, and I love their friends and treat them as family. If you ask any of us “where’s your happy place?” We all say the same thing – CAMP SOLOMON SCHECHTER!

Thank you Karen, for your ruach and dedication to CSS. With people like you guiding our community, we know that Judaism and joy will be one for many years to come!  

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October 18, 2018
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Introducing Schechter Spotlight, a new series that takes a look at individuals who have been impacted by Camp Solomon Schechter, and who, in return, have left their mark on our community.

This week we are spotlighting Dan Brown of Vancouver, BC. While this Dan is not the famous author of the Da Vinci Code, he has his own rich storied history with CSS. Dan started his Schechter journey as an Aleph camper in 1989 and was a part of the Oded class of ‘95. He went on to work as a counselor for two summers, Waterfront Supervisor, Head Staff, and, as of 2018, joined the CSS Board of Directors. We asked Dan to share some of his favorite memories of his time at CSS.

CSS: What’s your favorite memory as a camper?

DB: I have fond memories of Chef Al “The Kook” Bragga announcing that we’d be having lasagna for dinner. He would serve it on big metal trays right on the floor and the counselors would dish it up to campers from there. Right before he’d bring out the lasagna he’d shout, “It’s hot! Don’t step in it!”

CSS: We know lots of people have great memories of Al, and the famous lasagna dinners. We’d also like to add that we never serve anything off of the floor anymore! 

What’s your favorite memory as a staff member?

DB: One summer (around 1999), I painted my entire body red and rode a bike down the hill and off the end of the dock to kick off the water sports portion of Yom Sport. It’s probably still down there. Also we pulled off one of the most epic pranks one summer, where we moved Ben Sadeh’s car into the dining hall and set it up as a cabin’s table for breakfast.

CSS: Any other fun facts you’d like to share?

DB: Executive Director Zach Duitch and I were in the same cabin together in my very first year at camp, Aleph 1989. To this day, almost thirty years later, I’m still good friends with five of the ten members of that cabin. Also, I played the role of the Chehalis Rebbe for the first time this past summer. After being away from CSS for years, I found I could jump right back in!

Well Dan, we’re sure glad you jumped back in! And thanks for being the guinea pig in our new Schechter Spotlight series.

Check out the photo slideshow below! 

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