Camp Yavneh in the 1970s.
The 70's represented an era of great prosperity for Camp Yavneh. The population of the camp grew, and Yavneh flourished in many areas. The decade began with Abe Yavnover at the Helm. Although Abe's rule only lasted until the end of the '71 season, he left a lasting impression nonetheless. Who could forget the sight of Chef Abe tossing burgers and hotdogs at one of his beloved weekly BBQ's? For his last summer, Abe made two very wise personnel decisions. Billy Lichtman, who spent several summers training at Camp Tel Noar, was signed as a free agent to Rosh Banim. Billy's calm demeanor and reasonable approach enabled him to survive working with six directors through his over twenty year career at Yavneh. Abe also hired Rabbi Mel David, who served as Rosh Kerem, Rosh Maccabiah, teacher, and spiritual leader through the 70's and 80's. On Friday nights, the Chadar Ochel literally rocked when Mel led Shabbat Zmirot.
Dr. Michael Libenson took over as Director in the summer of '72 and remained in this position for six years. A well respected psychologist, Mike was known at camp for his care and concern for everyone. He prided himself on being able to identify each and every camper by name. Mike also instituted an invaluable innovation, the infamous tornado drill, during which everyone had to duck under the tables in the Chadar Ochel. Unfortunately, it was during Mike's tenure that the old Chadar Ochel exploded and burned to the ground, on Tisha B'Av in the summer of '73. It is amazing that the summer continued without missing a beat as the camp ate meals under a tent on the tennis court for the rest of the summer.
Avi Teken followed Mike as director, for three summers to closeout the decade. Avi filled the camp like no one had ever done before; the camp's population rose above the 240 mark! Of course, a hot shower was particularly hard to come by. During Avi's tenure, they were always safe from attacks by unwanted visitors. Trained in the Israeli army as a paratrooper, Avi himself led the Yavneh Defense Forces.
The success of the 70's lay with several key individuals who returned year after year after year to serve in a variety of important positions. The Agam was well run during the 70's, mostly by two extremely capable and strong women, Frieda Lach Dahukey, of blessed memory, and Susan Unger Green. It was safe and productive waterfront, and the swim team met with great success year after year at the Naticook Invitational Swim Meet. Under the helm of Linda Lichtman, the boating program, especially sailing, really caught wind with the introduction of sunfish. Davis Wolf followed Nathan Kaitz as Rosh Sport for most of the decade and continued an upward swing in athletics that saw Yavneh reach, the mid-70's, a level of success in inter-camp competition that was unmatched in the camp's history. With noted athletes like David Frim, Craig Foreman, Kenny Perlow, Billy Weinstein, Jeremy Rabinowitz, Shira Kessler, and Lynne and Ellen Korelitz, Yavneh's teams were feared (and not just because they spoke Hebrew on the field)! Under the tutelage of Rick Kaitz and Matt Green, Rachel Levine was a shoo-in to win the Tevya Singles Tennis Tournament.
Hebrew language continued to be the "raison d'etre" of Camp Yavneh during the 70's, and two distinguished educators were among those who took turns as the educational director. Rabbi Pesach Sobel's creation of the daily "Milat Kesem" was one of his many accomplishments in this position. Menachem Rotstein, of Carmel Trio fame, also served admirably in this role for several years.
Yavneh's exceptional musical tradition was carried forth through the decade by several talented musical directors, such as Jack Kahn, Meir Minsky, and Bob Pilavin (who never went anywhere without his keyboard...and an Elton John songbook). In the early 70's, the camp awoke to Jack Kahn's voice on WYAV, "ja'kol ha'iviri shel Northwood rabati". In addition to his exploits in music and radio, Jack co-founded the Yavneh Liberation Front (YLF) with Ed Fistel, to protect Yavneh from tyrannical forces.
Perhaps the most important person to begin working at Yavneh in the 70's was Doug McLean, who became director of maintenance under Mike Libenson and remained dedicated to his position and to camp until his death in 1994. Doug put his heart and soul into every new building that he built and took pride in the beauty of camp.
It seems that there were many families that provided the camp with an endless supply of campers. Some of he families who had at least four members represented at Yavneh during the 70's included: Bailen, Berger, Caplan, Foreman, Harris, Lake, Unger, Wald, and the Weinsteins of Albany (Dave was really only 15 when he started camp, even though he already had a full grown beard). Camp Yavneh and its mission have been central to their lives. These people, in turn, have enabled camp to continue to fulfill its vital mission.