Drishat Shalom from Camp Ramah Darom
It’s true what they say – time flies when you are having fun, and this week was kef meod (very fun)! We had the most incredible Yom Sport planned by Gesher, with picture-perfect weather and spirited activities, followed by the NivoU Band’s performance for the oldest aidot (age groups). Our last All-Camp Shira was ruach-filled—everyone sang their hearts out to try to earn the mateh ruach (spirit stick), and we gave our 5-year campers their coveted shirts. This week, we also watched the talented performers in the chug (elective) play, some aidot had yitziot (trips) and others enjoyed great yom meyuchad (special day) programming with creative and unique themes!
It’s clear to me that Halutizim’s middah (value) of zerizut (enthusiasm) was displayed this week by all. Everywhere I looked in Camp this final week of Machzor Aleph (First Session), I saw enthusiastic campers and staff. I am so appreciative of how hard our tzevet (staff) has worked this kayitz (summer) to create these memorable moments filled with zerizut for our chanichim (campers). Camp is nothing without our dedicated, talented tzevet! If you would like to recognize the summer tzevet for a great session, please consider donating to our Staff Appreciation Fund so that we can collectively thank them for a job well done.
Heading into the last Shabbat of this machzor is bittersweet. We love Shabbat, and our zerizut will be evident in our traditions and rituals. Yet we also know that after Shabbat, most of our chanichim will be heading home until next kayitz. This special kehillah (community) that we have built has been a blessing for all of us these four weeks and elements of this meaningful time together will undoubtedly sustain us throughout the year.
Imagery from the parsha we will read this Shabbat in Hukkat-Balak reminds me clearly of Camp Ramah Darom and this incredible kehillah we form. When Bilam seeks to curse the Israelites, blessings come out instead. One of the blessings is as follows:
כִּֽי־מֵרֹ֤אשׁ צֻרִים֙ אֶרְאֶ֔נּוּ וּמִגְּבָע֖וֹת אֲשׁוּרֶ֑נּוּ הֶן־עָם֙ לְבָדָ֣ד יִשְׁכֹּ֔ן וּבַגּוֹיִ֖ם לֹ֥א יִתְחַשָּֽׁב…
As I see them from the mountain tops,
Gaze on them from the heights,
There is a people that dwells apart,
Not reckoned among the nations.
Bilam ends this blessing saying: וּתְהִ֥י אַחֲרִיתִ֖י כָּמֹֽה. “May my fate be like theirs!”
I can immediately envision what it might be like if someone were to gaze from atop our beautiful North Georgia Mountains this evening, seeing all 650 chanichim and tzevet praying together to welcome Shabbat. Surely, they would be in awe and know that no other community can rival what we have created this kayitz.
While we “dwell apart” from the outside world on our gorgeous campus, allowing us to embrace our joyful Judaism fully, we pray that the entire fate of the Jewish people will be like ours at Camp Ramah Darom – vibrant, diverse, welcoming, and of course, enthusiastic!
Please scroll down to read our Aidah Highlights and Machzor Aleph Week 4 video!
Garinim (3rd grade)
- Had an amazing time on our yitziah (field trip), where we spent time at Lake Burton, went on a hayride, played with goats, chickens and bunnies, and went berry picking
- Roasted marshmallows and enjoyed s’mores (a Camp classic) at a special medurah (bonfire)
- Braided and decorated challah that they will enjoy at Shabbat dinner on Friday night
Nitzanim (4th grade)
- Did an escape room to reach the outdoors, made artwork reflecting on our summer using natural materials, visited the out-of-camp waterfall, and cooked dinner and s’mores over a fire on Yom Teva (Nature Day)
- Went on the swing, made art projects, showed off our ruach at All Camp Shira and participated in Yom Sport activities with great sportsmanship
- Celebrated winning the Milat Hayom (word of the day) competition for using the most Ivrit (Hebrew) around Camp with a party where we practiced Ivrit, danced and made challah covers
Sollelim (5th grade)
- Learned about the High Holidays, Passover, Purim, Shavuot and Chanukah through interactive activities
- Enjoyed fun tefillot (prayer services) in new locations in nature, as well as in boats on the lake
- Made s’mores and enjoyed sleeping on the porch in sleeping bags during their “camp-out”
Halutzim (6th grade)
- Launched rockets, created their own planets and played alien tag during Yom Space
- Danced and played at their peulat erev (evening program) pool party
- Had fun competing with Kochavim in soccer and basketball and showing off the amazing athletes in Halutzim
Kochavim (7th grade)
- Loved their yitiziah (trip) to Cool River Tubing, played mini golf and walked through Helen to have ice cream before we returned back to Camp
- Celebrated our successful summer with a pool party after All Camp Shira (singing)
- Spent time learning what it means to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and what ceremonies and celebrations might look like
Shoafim (8th grade)
- Watched our drama chug’s outstanding production of The Little Mermaid with incredible singing, dancing and acting (the Shoafim stars made everyone proud)
- Participated in many wonderful peulot (activities), including learning about Jewish immigration to the US during Yom Elemental, our yom meyuchad (special day of programming)
- Embarked on the ultimate challenge of playing an aidah-wide capture the flag game with a glow stick called ayala during their favorite evening peulat aidah (age group program)
Nachshonim (9th grade)
- Hosted Nachsho Live, a variety show a la SNL with skits, videos and music for the older half of Camp—This year’s theme was The Daromies Award Show
- Participated in a movement tefillah about using torah trope led by our Rosh Performing Arts
- Took time to reflect on highlights of this summer and began setting goals for Nivonim 2024
Nivonim (10th grade)
- Put their machnaut (camping) skills to the test when chanichim (campers) in NivoU machnaut went on a campout to a local campsite and everyone else practiced pitching and decorating tents on our kikar (grassy field)
- Learned StepNivo, a special dance for the aidah, that chanichim will showcase to the whole machaneh (camp)
- Had a blast at their nighttime pool party, where they danced to Israeli music and had a friendly volleyball game against Kochavim
Gesher (11th grade)
- Planned and ran an incredible Yom Sport, where they demonstrated leadership, organization and ruach (The theme was Scooby Doo and amazing puns and decorations abounded as the entire Camp investigated the case of the Missing Spider Web)
- Experienced a special day of “counselor expert” programs with spin classes, beatboxing, soccer, waterfall meditation, finger painting and more
- Created meaningful CIT programs to run with their chanichim (campers)