August 5, 2018

First Experience & Final Memories

By Rachael Speck

August 5, 2018

Do you remember the very first time you spent the night away from your parents?  Away from your own house.  Away from your own bed.  For our First Experience campers, this week is that first time.  This week is full of firsts for these campers.  First time zip lining, first time horseback riding and first time experiencing a Foam Party!  While all of these are exciting moments, there are even more significant firsts that will happen this week.  For many of these campers, it’s the first time they will make their bed, the first time they will choose their own food at meal time, the first time they will make a friend who doesn’t live in the same city as they do, or their first Shabbat dinner.  These are the unique first experiences we can only get at camp.

And while this week is full of many firsts for our younger campers, it’s a week full of last memories for our older campers.  Camp is about the journey, not about any one summer.  The journey starts in First Experience and ends when you “retire” as a staff member and officially become alumni.  This past week, our campers had so many great experiences along the journey.  Our Spartan Strong fitness program had their final event.  52 campers completed the 13-obstacle course, which included every camper having to get over a 6 foot wall, balance on wooden planks, carry cinder logs down the path, and many other tasks that forced them to work together to complete the course. 

A little heavy dew didn’t stop Kineret from having a “rain party” in Camp Street!  The music was loud and everyone was dancing in the rain and stomping in puddles.   Halutzim and Teens got to bake challah this week in preparation for Shabbat.  Teens went roller skating Thursday night and Halutzim had a casino night and a Foam party this weekend!  We’ve got lots of campers preparing their final night performances.  The horseback riding chug, in addition to riding and taking care of the horses, is busy working on their “boot, scoot and boogy” line dance.  The music chug will be performing a 3-song concert that they’ve been preparing for all week. 

On Friday afternoon we had our Art Show, where campers got to show off all their projects from the session.  We had everything from papier mache unicorns and portraits to jewelry and paper plants designed from recyclable materials. Ceramics made beautiful hamsas.  Arts chug painted the arts deck.  What was a plain wooden deck is now a beautiful work of art. If you haven’t already, check out pictures from the show on our Facebook and Instagram pages. 

For our oldest campers, the Teen 2’s, this past Friday was their last Shabbat ever as campers – a major milestone in the journey.  Their emotions were raw and the energy was high during our final song session.  League semifinals took place on Saturday afternoon.  And campers got to go shopping in canteen for new camp gear!  On Saturday night we had our Variety show and our final Shabbat concert of the summer. 

Tonight will be one of their most pivotal moments in the SIT (staff-in-training)’s journey as they have their SIT Induction Ceremony.  Each SIT will be “inducted” by a staff member of their choice.  This ceremony is a longstanding tradition that both SITs and staff look forward to for years.  Following the ceremony, all of the SITs will be welcomed into the final staff meeting of the summer.  After all the staff are seated in the dining hall, the SITs get ushered in.  Staff stands on the benches, applaud, cheer and scream as the SITs enter the room.  I still get chills every time as I watch them enter the dining hall as newly inducted staff.  It’s the culminating moment of their summer. 

Tomorrow we start packing.  Gosh we hate that.  In the meantime, we will cherish every last moment no matter where we are in the journey.

Shavua Tov,