Waking up to chirping birds, blue skies and bright sunshine set the stage for an incredible day in Machane Ramah. I passed the Al Hagovah shack where a group of nine Solelim campers and three staff members were preparing for this summer’s first multi-day bike trip. With great weather, the trip’s mission, designed to promote relationships between campers and staff members and to push the campers physically in the art of biking, will surely be accomplished.
Walking further, I joined Cochavim’s tefillot and was inspired by the world renowned musician Mikey Pauker, who lead the boys and girls in a rendition of Hallelujah before their outdoor morning breakfast bishul . Please see his work at: mikeypauker.com.
This past Sunday’s intermittent rain did not detract from a full day of activity. One alum parent said to me,” … even on a day like today the kids are smiling. Wow, that is just amazing.” Indeed, the kids were smiling and engaged in a variety of activities. From sports in the Ulam to waterfront staff organizing indoor games in Beit Am Aleph and Bet to Hebrew and Judaiaca classes to cooking in the Mitbachon, to woodworking and to Omanut [arts and crafts], the camp was humming.
Sunday was also Yom Bogrei Ramah, at which over 50 alumni from Gesher 2005 to Gesher 1980 came to see friends and to spend time in the place they grew up. Alumni from as far away as Boston and Maryland and up and down the eastern seaboard reminisced and were impressed by the new buildings and fields that they have never seen .
But for me, a tremendous highlight is beginning of a series of BBQs that I host in my house each summer. In the first week of Camp, Ari and I invite – all 295 staff members—in smaller groups—to say thank you for working in Camp, for working hard and to hear their impressions of their first few days of Camp. Here are just a few of their comments:
- One Amir farming staff member just got up and said ” thank you rabbi for having me on staff” and gave me a big hug!
- One second year Mishlachat told the story that a year ago she did not know anyone on staff and this coming year she will be starting to study at Ben Gurion University and will be rooming with a member of the mishlachat – an “only in Ramah” story!
- One staff member told us the story of teaching a Bogrim camper in his bunk how to dribble a soccer ball. He knew how to do it from childhood – he’s from Argentina – and though it only took ten minutes to teach the skill, the camper smiled proudly at acquiring this new skill.
I look forward to sharing more insights as the summer progresses.