Shavua Tov, Camp!

Shavua Tov (have a good week), Camp!  While we celebrated a heavy-dewey (it never rains at Camp, it’s just heavy dew) Shabbat, it was still just as amazing as Shabbat at Interlaken always it!  We usually mark our first Shabbat of the session by wearing white.  Because of the puddles and the mud, we decided to postpone our white-Shabbat until next week.  We also usually take cabin photos on the first Shabbat, and we decided to postpone that as well.  We did have a break in the rain, though, to be able to walk through Camp together on our Shabbat walk.  The administrative teams starts at the office and walks through Camp picking up each cabin along the way.  Together, we hold hands as we cross the bridge that separates our fire side from our cabin row, and we normally head to the athletic field where we light the Shabbat candles together after singing Shalom Aleichem to welcome in Shabbat.  Instead of getting muddy on the athletic field, we were able to light the Shabbat candles while circling around the floval (the concrete oval where we raise our flags each day).  While light dew sprinkled from above, we lit the Shabbat candles together and said the blessing before we walked over the the Ulam (our theater) for Shabbat services.  We started with Shalom Alecheim.  Click here for a 20 second clip of Camp singing together.  Our services, which were led by our Gesher (11th graders who are only at Camp for our first week) campers, were lovely and lively.  As always, they were filled with ruach (spirit), singing, and dancing. 

Following services, our staff always go into the Chadar Ochel for some special Shabbat dancing while the campers stay with me for a Shabbat story.  This week, the campers requested to hear the story of Abiyoyo, and I told them that I would tell it only if they promised to sing along:  After the story ended, the campers walked over to the Chadar Ochel where the staff greeted them in two lines singing Shalom Aleichem to welcome them into the Chadar Ochel.  Traditionally, we sing the blessing over the wine (grape juice) and K’far Noar (teen village – 10th grade) campers lead us in hand washing before we get to take a bite into the delicious homemade challah.  We are so lucky to have Darien, our baker, return to Camp for her second summer with us!  After our delicious meal of matza ball soup, strawberry salad, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and cake, the tables went up, and song session began filled with singing and Israeli dancing.  It was so much fun!  Finally, after singing and dancing were over, the campers and staff were covered in beads of sweat, and it was time to get back to their cabins so that they could be ready for bed by the time that K’far Noar came to their cabin for caroling.  Each week, they walk around camp and sing quiet songs to serenade the campers.  It’s really a beautiful tradition. 

When we woke up on Saturday morning, there was still heavy dew!  Camp was muddier and puddlier than it was on Friday, and I was filled with dread.  The radar looked like it would rain all day, and a rainy Shabbat is never as fun as a dry and sunny Shabbat.  Our Ozrim (staff in training) were scheduled to lead Camp in Shabbat services this morning.  We decided to divide up Camp into 4 locations based on unit, and the Ozrim and song leaders split up also to lead the various services.  Each week, the Ozrim perform a skit during services to act our the weekly parsha (Torah portion) so that Camp understands the parsha.  I had the pleasure of joining those Ozrim and bouncing from service to service to perform the skit.  Additionally, I brought our Illustrated Torah with us to talk more about the parsha with our campers and show the Illustrated Torah to our campers.  We know that everybody learns differently, and for some, seeing the pictures like a comic strip helps them understand better!  It was amazing to join each service and share this beautiful Torah with them and be a part of their Shabbat experience.  The Ozo skit, also, was hilarious and engaging as they shared the week’s story and tied it together with the value of not speaking badly about your family in the story of Miriam & Aaron speaking poorly of Moses and Miriam receiving leprosy for seven days as a punishment.

After services, we had a break in the heavy dew, and we even saw the sun come out!  I was SO happy, and I know the rest of Camp was thrilled as well.  Campers had the opportunity to swim in the lake and pool, play sports, hang out in Camp, and do many other outdoor activities that we didn’t expect to be able to do.  I had so much fun playing newcomb (a volleyball-like game where you catch the ball instead of hitting the ball) with a group of 6th grade campers; they honestly played all afternoon! 

After dinner, we debuted our new Saturday night programming for all of Camp.  We introduced a Shabbat Shira, a night of singing together around the Luck Fire Circle followed by sichot, Jewish learning and discussions, by unit.  Our first sicha revolved around Camp Interlaken’s statement of inclusion: One Big Circle, Everybody In It.  We talked about inclusivity, about safe spaces, and our values as a camp, and about the expectations around it.  Everybody participated, and then we came together again to celebrate Havdalah.  Typically, we celebrate Havdalah¸the ceremony that separates the holiness of Shabbat from the ordinary days that fill the rest of the week, and sit on the ground lllllllllakeside, but we met in makom ha lev, our amphitheather, instead because the benches were dry.  Havdalah is always a beautiful ceremony and a sacred time at Camp.  It was beautiful, and we were so glad to celebrate together.  We always have two singers who sing a duet together during Havdalah, and I always record them.  Click here to listen to JT and Naomi

At the end of Havdalah, we say: “Shavua Tov, Camp” and the camp replies with Shavua Tov to the song leaders, singers, and the campers who are holding the grape juice, the spices, and the candle standing before everyone.  It was a beautiful Shabbat, despite the heavy dew, and we are looking forward to warmer and dryer days ahead!   Stay tuned for more updates from Camp in videos or in posts!