Submitted by Rabbi Loren Sykes
Having only recently appeared for the first time in seven days, the sun is setting over beautiful Lake Buckatabon. From my office window, I see thin rows of purple clouds interspersed among lines of orange and dark yellow. The camp is filled with the voices of children and teens running to or from their peulot erev, their evening activity. It is hard to believe that they have only been here for twenty-four hours.
It seems like just yesterday that we were all sitting in the chadar ochel, the entire staff, mesmerized by Yoni Bundt’s final charge before the campers started to arrive. Yoni talked about the powerful impact camp had on him and his family, about lifelong friendships that formed at camp, and how wonderful it was for him to be back in the capacity of staff trainer. Combining the energy of a great motivational speaker with the intensity of a parent, Yoni related how he was feeling entrusting his child over to counselors for the first time. You could feel the sense of responsibility descending on the staff. This was no longer a theoretical situation, it was real. For the tzevet (staff), there were real things at stake and real souls to care for. The campers were about to arrive and this was an actual parent talking about an actual camper. Echoing an old tag line for the US Marines, Yoni had the entire staff repeating after him “The few. The proud. The tzevet.” When he was finished, music came on, the staff got up and the dancing started.
And now, twenty-four hours later, the flashmob, the talk, the dancing feel as though they took place an eon ago. Since then, buses arrived, campers ran screaming into each others’ arms or into the arms of staff members, great meals were eaten, and the sun finally came out. As of today, I finally know the names of all the staff members and I have learned the names of about 50 campers – just about 400 names to go…