This week has been jam packed with celebrations and haftaot (surprises) for Leviim, and we are excited to tell you all about it. Once we returned from our overnight at the Highland Center and got some well deserved R and R, we were reenergized and prepared for a full day of 4th of July celebrations! We woke up as usual but clad in patriot colors, headed to tefillot, then breakfast, and then to our usual morning schedule which consists of kitah (class), schiya (swim lessons), and chug (electives). After followed lunch, and then began the celebrations. Fourth of July commenced with a full camp parade. Bil made his way around the entire camp as all chanichim (campers) and madrichim (counselors) followed behind until led into the Beit Am (gym) for patriotic singing and dancing. Later in the day, a special Fourth of July nish nush (snack) of US flag cupcakes were handed out and got rave reviews. Apparently this year they were better than years past.
After a long hot day of celebrations and lots of sun, we had fried chicken for dinner followed by an all camp talent show and, of course, an amazing firework display.
Friday morning we felt the Shabbat ruach (energy). Another hot day, but with added excitement because we began preparing for the Yom Yisrael Tekes (Israel Day Ceremony). Yom Yisrael will be on Sunday the 14th, and each ayda is preparing a performance for the tekes. Leviim banot (girls) began learning their daglanut (flag) dance which is done every year by the Leviim banot. The banim (boys) began learning an arrangement both instrumental and vocal to the song Toda. There are so many talented musicians in the ayda, and we are so excited to showcase to the whole camp their many talents. In the afternoon, as we were desperate for showers, we grabbed our Friday pizza nish nush and cleaned up for Shabbat! “We ushered in the Shabbos with a beautiful song” a line from Minyan Man, a song we sing at ReLiSh (R-ruach, L-lifnei, S-Shabbat) that accurately describes our Kabbalat Shabbat experience at camp. Shabbat at camp is filled with singing, dancing, spending quality time with friends, and of course eating delicious food.
Sunday we had a surprise in store! We went about our usual schedule, with an added bonus of it being Leviim’s week to be meltzers (waiters). We had originally told everyone that they would be meltzing all three meals that day, but come breakfast time when the daily luz (schedule) came out, the chanichim noticed that it said Leviim would be having dinner at 4:45. This made them happy because they realized that they would not have to meltz at dinner time, but at the same time many were concerned, and rightfully so, that they would be very hungry in the afternoon. What they really wanted to know was why we were eating so early, but all we told them was that it was a hafta’ah (surprise)! As the day went on, the chanichim became more and more curious, trying to figure out the possibilities for having such an early dinner. Many were smart enough to figure out that it would be because we were going out of camp, but we weren’t going to give it away that easy. Right before our early dinner, we finally sent everyone back to their tzrifim (bunks) and change into bathing suits and grab towels… or at least that was the plan. When the banim got back to their bunks, the madrichim instructed them to grab a pillowcase and pack everything they could fit into it that they believed would be of necessary value. This threw the banim totally off track, packing things like extra batteries, materials for writing letters, and anything they could possibly find. As they got to dinner, they realized that they had been pranked because none of the banot (girls) had packed anything of the sort. So, after we had our fun, we sent them back to the bunks to get what they really needed, and we loaded the buses and set off for the UNH pool. When we arrived, along with aydat Gefen, we had the entire pool to ourselves. We enjoyed an evening of swimming and fun, and to surprise the chanichim even more, we ended the night by gathering the whole ayda in one area of the pool, and for the first time this summer played them their songs for Zimriyah! Everyone loved all of the songs and we just couldn’t wait to head back to camp and get started on learning our songs.
Monday was a normal day back at camp. The banim got to have a drama peulah (activity) which they loved, and the banot got to practice again with Marcelo to learn more of their daglanut dance. In the evening we planned a peulah that was based around the theme of the summer, Hakarat Hatov (Gratitude). The chanichim split up into seven groups, and were each assigned a person/group of people who work hard at camp but who’s efforts often go unnoticed. For example, one group appreciated the Marp (nurses), another worked towards appreciating the Yaneh Food and Facilities Service, and another gave gratitude for the 24hr security guards who are new to camp this summer. Each group was tasked with discussing what it is that each of these people/groups of people do at camp that may be unappreciated and come up with a creative way to show gratitude towards those people. Many of the groups created visual and written appreciations, wherein they expressed their gratitude towards these people and what they do, and then they were given the opportunity to actually deliver these appreciations and make their day.
Tuesday, another relaxing and calm day at the machane (camp). Even more relaxing for us because half of camp went on overnights so meltzing the tables was much easier, and we really enjoyed being the oldest campers in camp for a couple days. In the afternoon we learned the third of three Zimriyah songs, and are all extremely impressed with the quick progress that was made in learning the songs. Afterwards we split off into different peulot. Some of the banot went to Omanut (art) to make mosaics, and the rest of the banot along with the banim played football. Then, our last peulah of the afternoon was free swim. Going along with the relaxing atmosphere of the day, the madrichim planned an amazing Boundary Breakers paulat erev (night activity). This peulah is one of the most memorable and impactful experiences that we had as chanichim, and so we wanted to do the same for our chanichim. The banim and banot were separated for this activity, but both began with a blindfolded walk where the madrichim led each individual chanich quietly into the space and mindframe of the peulah. The banim were given pairs and a list of questions to honestly answer with one another, and then they came together to answer questions as a group. The banot did a slight variation of this, where they were also blindfolded and led into a room, but they were seated in a circle, and went around in a circle answering various questions, some more personal than others. In the end, both groups were able to break down barriers and the chanichim felt comfortable enough to honestly share with the group and supported each other. Everyone went back to the bunks and fell asleep, but after last night’s peulah, we know that they will wake up tomorrow feeling more bonded as an ayda. Today is Achla Yom (trip day), and we are very excited to spend time together at New Common Castle Beach and get to know each other even more.
Nina and Adina