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.

In the middle of breakfast, prior to Yoni’s talk, the Hanhala executed the first flash mob of the summer and possibly the first ever conducted at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. According to, a flash mob is:
A group of people who appear from out of nowhere to perform predetermined actions, designed to amuse and confuse surrounding people.  The group performs these actions for a short amount of time before quickly dispersing.
Performing to a song in Hebrew, and expertly choreographed and taught the night before by our outstanding Tzevet Rikkud (dance staff), the Hanhala got up from various tables throughout the chadar ochel in what appeared to be individuals going to get more breakfast. In fact, they were getting into position for the seemingly random dance.  The performance was greeted by surprise and cheers as we introduced another way to add seemingly spontaneous fun to the summer.  Between the flashmob, Yoni’s inspirational message, the hard work of preparing all week, and the dancing, the energy level was high as we awaited the arrival of the campers.

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…

It is dark.  The Big Dipper hangs over Lake Buckatabon, so big that I can almost reach out and touch it.  The whistles of staff basketball ligot blow in the background.  The campers are in for the night.  Another season is underway.  And I, I have the best job in the world and love being back at my old summer home, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.