Shabbat Letter from the Director #3 2019

We’d like to thank

  • Matt Lorch from Hillel at Bradley University

  • Alumni from Nivonim 2006 who joined us for their 13th reunion

for joining us this week at camp!

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This week began with our formal opening to the summer, the זמריה/zimriyah/song festival.  At the זמריה each aidah formally presents itself to the camp by singing its aidah song for the first time.  We then return to a “regular” week at camp – as if any week at camp is regular – before moving into the heart of our camp calendar next week with Yom Sport, a camp-wide talent show, our July 4th celebration, and our first musical, Shoafim’s presentation of The Lion King.  Hidden in the “regular” are the irregular highlights – camping trips, ropes course fun, inter-aidah sports games, and special programs and projects of all types. 

Tuesday was the last day of 'רבע א/reva aleph, the first quarter of the summer in terms of our תרבות/tarbut/cultural arts activities.  Twenty-five percent of the summer has passed: a very successful Ruach Ramah A has come and gone; Kochavim A is well into its first week; Garinim is halfway through their one month session.  This mile-marker gives us an opportunity to share some of the wonderful highlights from our activity areas (ענפים/anafim). 

Our outstanding music program does far more than accompany my thoughts and writing as I sit a few feet from the practicing of percussion, horns, and woodwinds.  The תזמורת/tizmoret/orchestra performed magnificently at the zimriyah and is well into its preparations for The Lion King.  From work on show tunes to pop music to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” to small ensembles and bands, the program is constantly abuzz with activity.  Another area of note in the performing arts is our dance program which, under the leadership of Maya Chartier, a professional dance instructor from Israel, has shifted this summer to focus on choreographing and learning dances for performances at aidah- or camp-wide activities.

Two special areas of note are our mitbachon/teaching kitchen which opened last summer and a special reva aleph addition of “escape room” creation.  Our talented Rosh Mitbachon, Anna Glassman-Kaufman (Nivo ’12), has brought her culinary and pastry training to her work for the second summer.  In addition to planting an herb garden which is already being harvested to spice the food created inside, our first reva programs focused on … COOKIES!  The next two weeks will take campers through the wide world of “the breakfast club,” and if today’s fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels are any indication, the food will even surpass the high standards of John Hughes’s beloved high school dramedy.  Alumna Brandi Cohen (Nivo ’93), who returned to camp the last few summers for short-term clinics and spends her years teaching in the suburban Chicago public schools, spent two solid weeks developing full escape rooms with campers from all aidot.  Those campers will spend the next few weeks challenging their tzrifim/cabins with their creations!

Some other highlights:  Machon campers are working on a beautiful addition to the Ohel Yitzchak Synagogue; our sports program continues to focus on developing skills through games and not drills, especially with our Kochavim and Garinim campers; a number of aidot have already gone on their camping trip and/or ropes course excursion with many more set to go in the next two weeks; Solelim-Shoafim (both genders) and Bogrim-Machon boys have already completed their softball games with the Bogrim-Machon girls set to play under the lights after havdalah tomorrow night. 

In this week’s Torah reading we read the story of the twelve spies whom Moses sends to scout out the land.  Upon their return ten of them report about the troubling and intimidating things that they have seen, including the vivid metaphor, after describing the massive size of the inhabitants:  “and we were in our own eyes like grasshoppers; so too were we in their eyes” (Numbers 13:33).  This verse encapsulates the power of self-perception in defining our reality.  And it is this self-perception which contextualizes the magic of camp.  Camp is a place where our campers feel as if they are masters of the skills and activities to which they are introduced.  It is a place where older campers take responsibility for younger campers and where campers in the same cabin or aidah take responsibility for each other.  By feeling as if - they magically become.  It is a positively stated converse of “fake it ‘til you make it:” “Believe it and become it!” 

Shabbat Shalom

Questions to ask your camper this week:

Kochavim A:  What’s been your favorite part of camp thus far?

Garinim:  What was your favorite station at the County Fair on Yom Meyuchad?

Solelim:  What was your favorite act in the aidah talent show?

Shoafim: How have preparations for The Lion King gone?  What are you doing to get ready today?

Bogrim:  What was a highlight of the boys’ or girls’ softball games against Machon?

Machon:  What was a highlight of the girls’ or boys’ softball games against Bogrim?

Tikvah:  What was your favorite part Yom Meyuchad (Wednesday)?

Nivonim: Tell me about Yom Sport – what was it like?  And the talent show!

Atzmayim:  Who is your yedid (buddy)?  What do they do at camp?