Shabbat Letter from the Director #5 2019

Thanks to

  • Dale Atkins and Sue Apsey, accreditors from the American Camp Association (we passed with a perfect score!)

  • Sarah Eisinger and Dr. Mitch Kupperman from JCamp 180

  • Joel, Mary, Aaron, Molly, and Levi Rich who joined us for the dedication of the Seth Conrad Rich Roofball Court

  • Rabbi Steven and Shira Abraham, Na’ama and Leor, from Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, NE

  • Rabbi Betsy and Scott Forester from Beth Israel Center in Madison, WI

  • Rabbi David and Annie Glickman from Congregation Beth Shalom in Overland Park, KS

  • Rabbi David Minkus from Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago

  • Rabbi Carnie and Paulie Rose from B’nai Amoona Congregation in St. Louis, MO

  • George and Arona Sarfatty – George is our amazingly talented and generous architect extraordinaire!

  • Dr. Rebecca Schorsch, Director of Jewish Studies at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School outside of Chicago, and Dr. Scott Moses

  • Rabbi Hillel Skolnik and Liav from Tifereth Israel in Columbus, OH

  • Kochavim A, Garinim, and Taste of Tikvah A campers!

for spending time with us at camp this summer!

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Last night we gathered in the Beit Am auditorium for Solelim 2019’s wonderful performance of Annie.  One of the major messages of the play is the power of positive thinking, that dreams, however lofty, can sometimes be met and surpassed.  From the first chords of “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and the entrance of Miss Hannigan to the triumphant “NYC” and the exuberant love of Daddy Warbucks and Grace, Annie lifts us up from an orphanage to the top of the New York skyline. 

Annie’s messages resonate with us in camp, and not just because the opening scene reminds us of our daily post-breakfast nikayon (cabin cleaning).  The optimism of the show parallels our knowledge that each new day at camp – every “Tomorrow” – can be brighter than the last.  During these hot days of July which anchor the middle of the summer camp is abuzz every second from wake-up until lights out. Kids display heroics on the ballfields, zipline, make music, and learn a new dance.  Over half of the Bogrim aidah decided to go on an optional additional camping trip to the Porcupine Mountains on Lake Superior.  Machon campers are completing their “intensive” projects redecorating a building, designing and constructing a new frame for the ark in the Ohel Yitzchak Synagogue, and much more.  Solelim and Shoafim campers are enjoying sadnaot (literally: workshops) – two-hour blocks of sports or cultural arts which they opt into for the third quarter of the summer.  The Nivonim girls enjoyed a three day canoe trip in central Wisconsin while the boys spent three amazing days of fun activities; both groups bonded enormously and will switch roles next week. All this in the same week as Kochavim A, Garinim, and Taste of Tikvah A concluded and, two short days later, Kochavim B and Halutzim arrived and are off to a great start.

Weeks like this are enhanced by two different types of external input.  Three groups visited us this week to see camp and learn about it: accreditors from the American Camp Association here for a periodic review of our adherence to ACA’s standards; the new Executive Director of JCamp 180, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation which has provided tremendous strategic and financial support to Ramah Wisconsin over the last fifteen years; and a group of counselors-in-training from Camp Interlaken JCC, a Jewish camp from the other side of Eagle River.  All three groups shared similar impressions of camp: the quality of our facilities, the cleanliness and order of camp, the high standards of professionalism and education by which we abide, the tremendous sense of Jewish community that permeates the campus. 

We were also joined by two groups who have contributed significantly to the financial health and communal support of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.  A group of bike riders, mostly from the Ramah community at Beth Israel Center in Madison, Wisconsin, rode over two hundred miles to raise scholarship dollars to send children from their synagogue to camp.  (If you’re interested in learning more about the ride and may want to participate in all or part of it next year with other riders from Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago, please e-mail Sam at scaplan@ramahwisconsin.com.)  And, beginning on Wednesday, a group of our key volunteer leaders led by our President, Jonathan Sherman, are joining us for Shabbat and the upcoming Visitors Days.  These two groups send dual messages of utmost importance: their belief in the work we do and providing the financial wherewithal to ensure that Ramah is an option for all families regardless of financial need and that we can continue operating at the high level to which our stakeholders have become accustomed.

On Sunday and Monday we will welcome over 400 guests to camp as part of our full-season Visitors Days.  We are excited to see you and show off the amazing staff and programming that are part of our 2019 summer.

Shabbat Shalom,
Jacob

Questions to ask your camper this week:

Kochavim B:  What did you do during your first tarbut (art block)? How was your meltzing (waiting) competition?

Halutzim:  What tarbut (art block) are you in? (For the girls: How was the ropes course?)

Solelim:  What was your favorite song to sing on karaoke night? What was your favorite part of performing in the play?

Shoafim: Which tzedakah chug (activity) are you in? Which sadna (workshop; see above in letter) are you in?

Bogrim:  Did you go on the optional camping trip?  If yes – how was it? What was the best part?  If no – What did you do that was special at camp while part of the aidah was gone?

Machon:  What underground movement (machteret) were you a part of during Yom Simulation? What was your favorite mini-game that you went to on Yom Simulation?

Tikvah:  What role did you have when making chocolate balls for pe’ulat erev (evening activity)? How was boating during perek zayin?

Nivonim: (For girls:) What was the best part of the canoe trip? Who was your partner?  What was your favorite group to be on and why? (Options: cooking / clean up / setting up tents)    (For boys:)  How was grilling and schmoozing with Jacob and JAR?  Your “welcome back” project?  What did you learn about “bridge building”?  Where did you play laser tag? 

Atzmayim:  How was your last day off?  What’s your favorite thing to do at camp in the afternoons and evenings?