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Camp Highlights: Week 8

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Geoff Menkowitz9.08.19

At Ramah Darom, we go out strong. This last week of Camp has been fun-filled and action-packed. And, as I’m sure you saw from the SmugMug galleries (Part One and Part Two!), Yom Sport was the major highlight. Yom Sport is our version of a camp-wide Olympiad in which four teams compete in arts, sports, and spirit. It is a day of face-paint and cheers, singing and sweat, elaborate decorations and wild costumes.

The competition is intense but not fierce, and each camper is able to find a way to contribute to their team’s effort: some kids paint a banner to depict the themes and values of the day; other campers play sports like soccer, basketball, football and hockey; many campers have a role in a huge relay which includes scooters, archery, mountain biking, pie eating, and culminates with a fire-building competition to see who can be first to burn a suspended rope. A powerful part of our Yom Sport experience is the lip-synch competition at closing ceremonies in which elaborately choreographed dances are performed to mash-up mixes of song snippets. The lip-synch is a crystallization of all of the joy and intensity of the day and, in so many ways, is emblematic of our Camp culture: communal celebration of courageous campers and creative collaboration.

In addition to the camp-wide spectacle of Yom Sport, we gathered together again last night for Zimriyah – our music festival in which each age-division performs a song in front of the entire Camp. The songs selected this session each reflected a sense of optimism and hope for the future. It struck me last night that it was not only the lyrics of these songs which transmitted a message of positivity. The children, bursting with giddiness and giggles, performing with pride and purpose, were themselves a message of optimism and hope. When the philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The Medium is the Message,” I don’t think he had in mind singing children. At yet, this “medium” was far more effective at transmitting a positive view of the Jewish future than anything else could possibly be.

As I mention the future, I can’t help but acknowledge the amazing group of Gesher (11th grade) campers who have been with us for the past two-months completing a Leadership Development Program at Ramah Darom and forging friendships which will last a lifetime. One our last Shabbat of the summer, we made a big fuss over them – celebrating their accomplishments, honoring their commitments to our community, and expressing gratitude to them for the many contributions they made to the success of our summer together. They introduced Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday night by singing a special song. Instead of offering a D’var Torah myself as I usually do on Friday nights, I gave the pulpit to two representatives from the aidah, and they were our teachers. And, after Havdallah, our Gesher campers jumped on stage and lead the community in spirited dancing to start the new week.

In case you haven’t heard yet, Priority Enrollment is NOW OPEN for Kayitz (Summer) ’20. CLICK HERE to be among the very first to take advantage of Priority Enrollment for Returning Campers and their siblings. By submitting your registration before the end of August 30, you can (1) guarantee your campers a space for next summer, (2) lock-in Early Bird Rates, and (3) receive a priority gift. I promise you that the best way to address the post-camp blues is to assure your child that they are registered for Kayitz ’20.