Around the campfire with sean
November 19th, 2012
Dear Camp Wise Families,
August 3rd, 2012
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
As we wind down our final week at camp all I can do is smile. What an experience, what a joy, what a session. From day one, the ruach and heart of these campers has been magical, special, and contagious. The last week emotions are heavy. We see lots of laughter, lots of cheering, lots of singing, and tons of special moments planned by the staff. It makes it that much harder to say goodbye on Monday morning, but it will only make the next hello that much closer! Before we begin our farewells, let’s take a look back at this week and see what we are still smiling!
The highlight of this week was easily Maccabiah (color war). Our six judges (the staff picked to plan the program) worked around the clock for the past few weeks to put on one incredible Maccabiah. The theme….The Muppet Show!!! Our five teams were – Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Animal. They battled to see who would be the new opening act for the new Muppet Show. The program broke with a great skit that had the judges riding into camp on fire trucks (we thank the local fire department for taking part in our program)! The judges hopped off to introduce our team captains and then we were off! Activities included The Great Race – an all-camp relay race, individual and team sporting events, plaque making, dance and skit performances, and song writing. In the end Team Kermit was victorious.
This afternoon we were treated to the first ever Dance Concert. Our dance specialist, Becky Sebo came to camp this year with the idea of making dance bigger and better than ever. She got all the campers excited about the concert and has worked with them all summer on technique. It was UNREAL! I’m pretty sure I have two left feet and these campers just brought the house down. No matter, young or old, each group surprised me with their amazing moves and talent. The final product could have been an episode on America’s Got Talent. I think next year I will have to take the dance chug so I can learn a few of those moves.
Tonight all of camp will be together to celebrate our final Shabbat as a camp. It’s bitter sweet because Solel always does a superb job, but everyone knows that this is the end of camp. I’m sure there will be a lot of hugs and a few teary eyes in the crowd. Solel started working on this Shabbat the first week of camp. It’s an honor to lead the final Shabbat at camp and they take this honor very seriously. Because we only have 3 Shabbats during second session, Solel invites Chalutzim to participate in services with them. It’s a great way to see the oldest campers “pass the torch” to the youngest campers – L’Dor V’Dor (from generation to generation).
Just as in weeks past, the theme they have selected couldn’t have been more appropriate. The theme for this Shabbat is “And You Shall Love...” One reason they selected this theme is because in this torah portion both the Shema and V’ahavtah are reread. Another reason is that they want everyone to look around and love everything about this place, love everyone who has made a difference for them this summer, love all your friends, and most importantly love yourself. What a powerful message to our community as we end camp.
Things that we are still looking forward to this week are two different performances by our campers. The first is our Camp Wise Rock performance. We have over a dozen campers who will perform their own rock concert this Saturday. They have been working all summer with Cleveland Club Rock to learn how to perform on stage. Who are we kidding!?! Our campers jumped at the opportunity to be on stage in front of all of camp. I can’t wait until they have the entire camp up on their feet singing along and rushing the stage! We would like to thank Cleveland Rock, and especially Avril Burg for working with our campers and putting on such an awesome program!! Stay tuned for photos this weekend!!!
The other program is our all-camp play. This session we chose to perform Beauty and the Beast – a classic. I even have a small, but very important role – I’m a spoon, haha! Many campers get their first experience on stage at camp and will continue their love for acting in other venues during the year. They might want to try our Playmakers youth theater run by Sheri Gross. It’s amazing! I have watched rehearsals this week and the campers look fabulous. You should know that all the acting, sets, singing, make up, and costumes are made by our campers. It’s quite impressive. Stay tuned for photos this weekend!!!
It’s been an honor spending the summer with each and every camper and staff member. My favorite activity has been walking around camp and experiencing the joy of our community just being at camp. Watching friendships develop and grow, seeing how the campers look up to our counselors who have become such great role models is just so heartwarming. I wish all the parents out there could be in my shoes for one day and walk around camp and see campers laughing and smiling, being silly and dressing up in goofy costumes, and just hanging out by the pool. It’s truly remarkable how special this place is for everyone!
In our final days I want to leave you with some special words that as a community we sing together on our final night….
Bless this house as we are all together. Bless us all we may not meet again. Think of all the happiness we found here, take it home and share it with a friend. Come along, sing a song, and you’ll never say goodbye. And you’ll see, and agree, friendships won need never die.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Wise and see you next year!
P.S- Be on the lookout for our registration mailing in August. Registration begins the first week of September.
July 27th, 2012
Trip II is already half way over, can you believe it? We’ve had so much fun this week and in 11 days, 11 DAYS!, we will all be home and the summer will be over L. But let’s not dwell on that and talk about all the amazing things that are happening here at the Home of Happiness…..
There is a huge, exciting world event that starts tonight, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London! But wait….it’s not nearly as fabulous as the 2012 Camp Wise Olympics! Campers from villages far and wide, big and small, young and old have gathered here at CW for the summer games. Our sport’s staff has gone above and beyond to bring the Olympic excitement to Chardon. This whole week at Chofesh (free time) campers participated in multiple sporting events. We had an archery competition that saw one camper hit 5 bullseyes in a row, a soccer match that ended in a shout out, a buzzer beater in our basketball game, and some great matches at our tennis courts. To end our Olympic events we have started to help train a few campers for the triathlon which consists of running, kayaking, and biking. Our “Olympic Athletes” have shown great Ruach HaSport (sportsmanship) which is part of the mission for Camp Wise and the Maccabi Games.
This past weekend we held our Talent show and I was in awe of our campers. The quality of talent was just astounding and the audience continuously erupted in cheers after each act. We had campers who performed and sang original songs, a camper who played the theme song from the Pirates of the Caribbean as his cabin mates acted out a fight scene, a few duets with guitars and singing, some crazy gymnastics with flips and hand stands, and one of my personal favorites, the infamous cabin dances to the hit song “Call Me Maybe.” Even our staff got creative and put on a few funny skits. My hat goes off to all the campers who performed and I’m so proud of all the participants. Being in front of the entire camp can be a very scary thing and our campers do it without hesitation! Way to go! Here are a few photos from the night…..
Last week I wrote about some of our Israel Education at camp. This week we had an evening filled with Israel programming that was not only fun, but informative!! Each village separated at the beginning of the night to hold their own program. There were campers running all around camp to different stations we had set up where they could sample the food of Israel, talk with the people of Israel, experience the land of Israel, and everyone’s favorite participate in the Israeli Army! At the end of the night we all joined back as a camp to sing Hatikvah (Israel’s national anthem), listen to our Israeli staff read “The Only Country” by Yair Lapid (http://www.jr.co.il/articles/onlycountry.txt) and enjoy an incredible fire sign of the Israeli Flag made by our Israeli staff.
This week we also said goodbye to our Echad campers. We will miss you guys and hope to see you next year!!!! As they departed, we welcomed our Rishonim campers for the last two weeks of the session. They have already enjoyed a ton of activities including our famous Day Trip Day (read about it below) and are getting ready to experience their very first Shabbat at camp. We couldn’t be more excited for them….
Day Trip Day!!!! This is everyone’s second favorite day (the first being Maccabiah – our color war). Each session our campers get to leave camp and enjoy a fun-filled day at an amusement park. Our Chalutzim campers go to Pioneer Waterland, Ohalim goes to Geauga Wild Water Kingdom, and Noar goes to Cedar Point (Solel has their own separate trips). We were a bit worried because the weather was calling for some very severe storms this past Thursday. On Wednesday night the staff did our best “no rain” dance to make sure Day Trip Day would still be a go. It must’ve worked because we woke up to no rain!!! It was hot, but no better place to be than at an amusement park with water rides available.
While camp was enjoying Day Trip Day, Solel was enjoying an amazing trip to West Virginia. Their trip was 3 days and they got to go white water rafting, climb through a mud obstacle course, and play at the ACE Adventure resort. This is the trip that makes everyone else extremely jealous of Solel. I’ve loved watching the friendships blossom in Solel this year. It’s refreshing to know that even after 5+ years our campers are still making new friends and having new experiences at camp. That to me is just incredible and speaks volumes to why CW is so important to the growth of our campers.
This week Ohalim has been asked to lead us in Shabbat. Boy, have they been doing an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. This week we begin the final book of the Torah, Deuteronomy. As we begin the end of the Torah, Ohalim has selected a theme not only fitting for Shabbat, but for their village as well – When One Flap Closes, Another One Opens. What a great theme as we once again close out a wonderful week and look towards our final week at camp.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Wise!
July 20th, 2012
Wow…Trip II 2012 is finally here! For those of you who are just joining the Camp Wise family this year, check back each week for another edition of “Around the Campfire” and read about all the fun happening at Wise.
I would like to take the time to thank the Camp Wise community. I know that this is my 4th summer here at CW, but it feels like a new journey for me. You have shown me so much support over the last year that this summer couldn’t have started off any better than it did. I’ve appreciated all the help from planning for a new food service - I’m happy to report that the food has been given 2 thumbs up by the campers and staff; to new programs - Camp Wise Rock, wakeboarding, and Fit Club; to all the families that host our staff on days off. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Camp Wise wouldn’t be a premier overnight camp without the support from our families.
So, what makes Trip II different from Trip I...
There’s this buzz in the air about how the campers have been waiting, counting down the hot summer days, until they can finally load the buses and make their way to camp. They have been itching to get to the Home of Happiness for 5 weeks! For our staff, they have been here for a while now, but they have also been waiting for these new campers to arrive. They are so thrilled because the energy has been building and when the campers stepped off those buses it erupted and CW was in full swing for Trip II!!! Everyone is so excited to be here and we can’t wait to show all the campers why Camp Wise is so special. The next three weeks are going to be out of this world and it all starts NOW! Actually, it all started a few days ago at camper drop off.
It is so important to us that each camper feels a sense of belonging as soon as they enter the parking lot - way before camp and even before they get on the buses….
Then the fun starts on the BUS!!!
And continues as soon as they get off the bus!
Once the campers get to camp they head straight to their village’s Moadon (rec hall) to meet all the staff and to start learning CHEERS!
Even though we haven’t had a full week yet, the campers have already created that camp RUACH (spirit). It’s so contagious and you just can’t help but go crazy with the rest of camp. I always wonder what camp would look like to a random person who just happened upon our camp grounds. The best way to describe it would be like stepping into a Disney movie – there are people smiling everywhere, singing and cheering just because, and just an amazing friendly atmosphere. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the animals in camp started singing with us!!
I’ve already seen this ruach manifest in so many different ways and it’s only been 3 and a half days (It actually only took 3 and half seconds to catch the ruach)! Cabins are dressing up in silly outfits, dancing on stage, singing on in the Chadar (dining hall), and so much more! Take a sneak peek at what I’ve seen around camp…
As I walk the camp grounds each day I’ve been really impressed with our campers. I’ve seen them try new things, learn new skills, and most importantly, make new friend. This is such an important part of camp as we try to help campers build self-esteem and self-confidence, teach them how to problem solve, and encourage the creation of positive relationships with others. These are the reasons campers come back year after year. All the activities are fun and everyone loves doing them, but it’s the lifelong friendships and memories that keep them coming back!
With all that said, camp has gotten off to a fantastic start. From the rec fields to the lake, campers are running around everywhere having the time of their life! Some quick highlights include auditions for this session’s All-Camp Play – Beauty and the Beast; experiment night down on the Noar rec field where our Noar campers participated in actual science experiments; Chalutzim had their own mini-Maccabiah (color war); and Ohalim had their annual Ohalympics! Solel has already returned from their first trip where they enjoyed some time at Niagara Falls (a personal favorite of mine as I lived in Buffalo, New York for a few years).
One of Camp Wise’s most important missions is the importance of building Jewish identity through formal and informal Israel education. There are many ways we achieve this at camp. The most obvious is that we hire staff from Israel to come live and work with our camp community. Each year we have around 12 Israeli staff members who create our Israeli delegation. The most formal way is through our Israeli Culture program housed in our Lenny Rubin Israel Center, where campers learn about all parts of Israel – the people, the state, the food, and much more. On top of that, we plan multiple Israeli evening programs for our campers to enjoy.
However, there are two aspects of Israel education that are less known and are extremely important that I want to share with you. As the campers move into the Noar and Solel village, they have the opportunity to live with Israeli campers. Each year around 12-15 Israeli campers join us for Trip II and our campers form peer relationships with them. This peer relationship is much stronger than the relationship they have created with the staff. Many campers end up continuing their relationship throughout the year and many of the Israeli campers return to camp the following year. This bond helps them form a stronger connection to K’lal Yisrael (the land and people of Israel). On Monday we had our Israel campers arrive for another amazing summer at CW!
The second program I want to share is quite exciting and happens through our SIT (Staff-in-training) program. During Trip II our SITs get to experience Israel first hand – they spend 3 weeks touring Israel. Highlights from the trip are visiting Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, a 3 day hike, kayaking in the Jordan River, spending Shabbat at the Kotel, and enjoying time around Tel Aviv. This is the culmination of our Israel education and our SITs left on Monday for their trip. Our hope is that the following year when they return as staff their knowledge and love for Israel can transform into strong programming and role modeling for all of camp.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for Trip II to finally be here and to be celebrating our first Shabbat together. Each week one of our villages leads Shabbat. This week it is the mighty village of Noar! With a shortened week, they still took on the challenge and have been doing a superb job planning for services tonight, tomorrow morning, and havdallah. Shabbat is a special day at camp where the entire community comes together to spend time reflecting on our past week and getting ready for the excitement to come. Singing, cheering, and connecting to our own personal Judaism is one thing that makes Camp Wise so special. Our services run by our campers can be extremely powerful and moving. Together as one community in the Chadar lighting the Shabbat candles and enjoying dinner is an experience that I’m so thrilled to be able to share with our campers.
July 13th, 2012
Hello again! This past week has been fabulous. We have seen Maccabiah (color war), the all-camp play (Oliver), we rocked out to our Camp Wise Rock group, and will be enjoying an awesome dance concert tonight – not to mention one last amazing Shabbat together. During the last week of camp emotions can run high because everyone realizes it’s coming to a close. People sing longer, cheer louder, play harder, and enjoy special moments together. I’m sure you can’t wait for your children to come home so you can hear all about it. We truly are lucky to have had this experience together.
To start our final week, the campers and staff were in for a treat. We broke our Maccabiah Sunday afternoon. Our Maccabiah Judges (the staff who planned the program) worked extremely hard to bring so much fun and energy to the program. The theme of Alice in Wonderland was totally brought to life as the teams – Tweedledee, Chester Cat, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, and Mad Hatter battled it out to see who could “find Alice.” Activities included an all-camp relay race called the Great Race, individual events at our sports areas, plaque making, song writing, dance and skit performances. In the end the team White Rabbit won all of Maccabiah!
This week we also got to enjoy a performance by our Camp Wise Rock group. They have been working all summer with Cleveland Rock to learn how to perform on stage. Who are we kidding!?! Our campers jumped at the opportunity to be on stage in front of all of camp. We had almost 2 dozen campers perform on Wednesday night. They got the whole camp on their feet singing along, jumping up and down, and cheering for more. Some of the performances were solo acts, while others were group performances. I was so proud of each and every camper who truly rocked the house! We would like to thank Cleveland Rock, and especially Avril Burg for working with our campers and putting on such an awesome program!!
One of our great traditions at camp is the all-camp play. It’s one of those activities that campers look forward to each and every year. Many campers got their first experience on stage at camp and have continued their love for acting outside of camp. This year our play was Oliver – a classic! I was especially excited this year because I was given a small, but very important part in the play - not really, but I like to think it was important J. The campers in Oliver did an A-MAZ-ING job. One of the best plays I have ever seen at camp. The acting, directing, singing, sets, and costumes were out of this world. All of this is done by our campers (except for the directing). From the opening song to the final word I was in awe of our talented group. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them on Broadway one day!!! Seriously!
Tonight we have two special events – our first ever Dance Concert and our final Shabbat lead by Solel. Our dance specialist, Becky Sebo came to camp this year with the idea of making dance bigger and better than ever. She got all the campers excited about the concert and has worked with them all summer on technique. Tonight we will enjoy the final product and I’m sure it won’t be anything short of unbelievable. I have to say, we certainly have a very talented bunch of campers and it makes camp that much more enjoyable! Stay tuned for photos that will be posted tonight or tomorrow of the dance concert.
It’s bitter sweet to be celebrating our last Shabbat together. Solel always does a superb job, but they also know how to get the water works following. I won’t be surprised to see a lot of hugs tonight and a few tear y eyes. They actually started working on this Shabbat during the first week of camp. They take this honor very seriously and want to make sure that each camper leaves the next day having had a great experience for their final Shabbat.
Their theme is a call to all Jews in the world – Keep the tribe alive. Part of what we do at camp is to try and help each camper build their own Jewish Identity. Our hope is that from this experience they will become more active in Judaism outside of camp. Maybe they join BBYO or another youth group, maybe they decide to join a Jewish fraternity or sorority when they go off to college, maybe they become more active in their Synagogue. Maybe some of them will go on to be the next great CW staff member, maybe even the next great CW Director. Whatever it is that they decide to do will only help to strengthen their own Jewish identity and the greater Jewish community.
It’s the end of the session and I really do want each of you to know what it’s like to walk around camp and experience the joy of being here. I love seeing the bonds that campers make with each other and watch friendships grow. To see our counselors become great role models for the campers is so heartwarming. Some of my favorite moments are just seeing kids be kids and being silly and goofy or just hanging out under the trees. It’s been a pleasure to spend the summer with each and every one of them.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Wise and see you next year!
P.S- Be on the lookout for our registration mailing in August. Registration begins the first week of September.
July 6th, 2012
Only 9 days left L! Week 3 was quite the week. This past week we have seen all types of weather – sun, rain, cold, and hot; some all in the same day. It has definitely kept us on our toes. The rain hasn’t affected our daily life as much as the heat has. Have no fear, Yom Hamayim is here (Day of Water). When the heat gets to be too much for us at CW, we bring out our water schedule. Each village gets to spend extra time at the pool, lake, and our really cool make-shift water park that includes a portable water slide, sprinklers, and water balloons! Everyone is still in high spirits and won’t let the weather dampen our summer spirit…..
This past Sunday we said goodbye to our Rishonim I campers and said hello to our Rishonim II campers…. All of Chalutzim ran up to welcome them the Camp Wise way!
We are so excited to spend the rest of the session with our new friends in Rishon II! Welcome J.
With our new Rishonim campers here, it is Chalutzim’s turn to lead Shabbat this week. It’s so inspiring to watch Chalutzim practice for their services this week. For many campers, this is their first Jewish experience; let only being asked to lead all of camp in services. They have not shied away from the arduous task. Jessie (our Jewish Educator) has done a great job helping them understand this week’s torah portion – Balak. It’s actually a fun one for Chalutzim because they learn about a talking donkey, seriously. The portion talks about Balak hiring Balaam to curse Israel, but instead meets some resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey (told you) and ends up blessing Israel instead. The Chalutzimer’s learned that God is everywhere and you should be cautious about the things you do. Because of this idea they selected a very catchy theme – “Be Aware, God is There.”
The Noar girls finally got some time away from the Noar boys, as the boys departed on their Mohican Trip. While the boys are away the girls will play. They had themselves a good ole fashioned Hoe Down. They did some crazy country line dancing and enjoyed some wonderful southern cooking. Basically they deep fried anything they could get their hands on! My favorite was the fried oreo cookies – surprisingly delicious…yum.
The boys didn’t have as much luck, but probably had more fun. Their trip was cut short because of bad weather. The rain and wind just wouldn’t stop and completely soaked all of their stuff. However, boys will be boys and they didn’t care. Instead of hiding in their tents, they played in the rain cheering as loudly as they could until the buses came to pick them up. Upon their arrival back at camp, they had created a new cheer called Hurricane Mohican. Needless to say, this is one of the camp memories they will never forget! The staff did an amazing job keeping the campers safe and communicating with me about the weather situation. This is one of those times things could have gone wrong, but our amazing staff were able to handle it with ease and keep the campers’ morale high.
Ohalim also had their fair share of overnights. However, the weather cooperated for them. They got to hike down into our woods where we have our very own campsites for them to use. Once they were down there they put up their own tents, cooked their own dinner over the campfire, participated in some pretty awesome wilderness games, and enjoyed the “must-have” campfire song session. Don’t let me forget about the s’mores, the most important part of any overnight! While some cabins had their overnights, the rest of the village had a wacky pool party and a classy casino night.
Solel went on another out-of-camp trip. However, this trip was a bit more meaningful than the others. Our Solel campers volunteered their time at the day camp for the Monarch School for children with Autism. We have a very close connection to Monarch, as Karin Hess, a past Camp Wise director, runs and operates their day camp. They spent an entire day working with the campers and helping to run programming for them. Also, Monarch comes to CW a few times each session to spend time with our Solel campers at our pool. It is such an amazing experience for both groups of campers. Monarch gets to enjoy some of that CW magic and our Solel kids get gain an experience that teaches them patience, understanding, inclusion, and most importantly how to appreciate and value differences. When they returned one camper pulled me aside and told that this was the “best trip they had been on and working with the Monarch campers is an experience she will never forget.”
After spending the day with Monarch, Solel traveled to Columbus to enjoy an evening at Sky Zone and then spent the following day on the Tow Path. They’re always smiling when they return….
Many people know about our SIT program (Staff-in-training), but may not know everything that they do while in camp. Besides learning counseling and teaching styles, child development, group processes, risk management, listening and communication skills, and conflict mediation – the SIT group participates in a building project in order to leave something at CW for future generations to enjoy. L’Dor v’Dor – from generation to generation. Past projects have been the entryway into camp, the swing sets in front of our infirmary, and a new boat house for our lake front. This year’s building project is a hut that will sit behind our Chadar (dining hall). It will be the future home for our SIT program and a place for cabins to enjoy individual programming throughout the summer. They are more than half way done with the project!
I can’t forget to mention the 4th of July!!!! Our SITs put together a wonderful carnival for the 4th. We had inflatables for the campers to bounce on, a dunk tank, cotton candy, bobbing for apples, ring toss, and so much more. Just think of the best carnival you have ever been too and times that by 1000! That’s how amazing our carnival was. To end the carnival, we normally shoot off fireworks, but this year it started to rain 5 minutes before the show (told you the weather was crazy this week). Don’t worry though, we all gathered in the Chadar and ended the night with the best song session yet! We sang every song we could think of that had the word America or the word rain in it. Fireworks were postponed until the next evening when all of camp could enjoy a rainless show!
First session has been fabulous and we have so much more to look forward to until it’s time to say goodbye. This coming week all of our campers will enjoy the production of Oliver! and I know our cast and crew have been working extremely hard for opening night. I can’t wait to tell you about the performance! We will see two firsts at camp this coming week – our first ever Camp Wise Rock performance and our first ever Dance recital. Both groups have been working all session for their performances.
Next week is going to one for the record books!
June 29th, 2012
Week 2 is in the books ladies and gentleman. It’s hard to believe, but Trip I is half way over! There are so many things that I could share with you that it would become a novel. It’s easy to say that week 2 has been even better than last week.
Walking around camp and talking with campers has been my favorite activity this week. I was lucky enough to catch up with Noar boy’s cabin 1. They had challenged the staff to a baseball game earlier this week and I was intrigued to see the outcome. As I arrived at the baseball field I was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch – what an honor! As the game went on I found myself routing for the home team (Noar cabin 1). It was a tough fought battle and the staff took game 1, but little did I know that it was a doubleheader! The boys came back and won the second game. I’m looking forward to the tie-breaker game so we can crown a champion!
Some of the other Noar boys have taken a liking to our dance activity. This year we have introduced ballet in our dance program and cabin N3 decided to take their talents to lunch skits. The dance and costumes were so amazing that more cabins have started to create their own dances….
Being down at the lake this year has been incredible. As a past waterski instructor I was able to work with a few cabins and help a handful of campers get up on the wakeboard! It was so rewarding to see the huge smile on their faces as they accomplished a challenging feat. It’s easy to say that the lake has once again established itself as one of the most popular areas at camp. But don’t forget about the pool!!! Things are in full swing and campers are learning new strokes and techniques during swim lessons. It seems like more campers have been in the pool during free swim than ever before. With the warm weather on its way, we are sure to see this trend continue!
There is one Camp Wise tradition that makes a lasting impression on campers and staff alike and it’s our legendary song sessions. This year we have 7 song leaders who can rock the house. Even more impressive are the campers who join them! We have quite the talented bunch. From singing Brown Eyed Girl to Hava Nashira, the ruach (spirit) that runs through our Chadar (dining hall) is electric! This is where the true spirit of Camp Wise can be found. Many camps have started to have split meals where the younger campers eat first and then the older campers eat. I don’t know about you, but it’s just not the same without all of camp together. After every lunch and dinner the Chadar erupts in enthusiastic cheers. This is where community starts and spreads throughout all of camp. It’s contagious and we love it!
Just take a look at our superhero lunch….
This week Solel was gone for 3 days on their white water rafting adventure. Boy am I jealous. I’ve already heard a dozen stories about their amazing experience and I can’t wait to hear more. Not only have they bonded as a village, but they’ve bonded with their Solel Buddies. We have a neat program at camp where each Solel camper becomes the “buddy” of 2 or 3 younger Chalutzim campers. They have now spent two evenings together and watching the Solel campers become such positive role models to our Chalutzimers is so rewarding and gratifying for the staff and me.
I don’t want to forget about one of the more important aspects of camp. You guessed it; we’ve had quite a few overnights this week. The Noar girls spent two full days at Mohican State Park canoeing and hiking. From what I heard the weather was remarkable! Not only did they spend a wonderful day on the water, they saw some gorgeous scenery while hiking the trails at Mohican. While on the hike they were even able to observe a few animals – deer, beavers, and woodchucks. Isn’t being in the outdoors fun?! The Noar boys can’t wait until it’s their turn to head down to Mohican.
Even our youngest campers get a brief taste of what it’s like to experience the outdoors. Both the Chalutzim boys and girls got to spend one evening and sleep over night at our Anisfield Day Camp Halle Park property. This year the girls decided to canoe their way to Anisfield. We are lucky to share the same lake with our day camp. After a quick 10 minute canoe ride, the girls were off to cook their dinner and spend some quality time around the campfire singing songs and listening to some great camp stories.
After hearing about the girls amazing experience the Chalutzim boys were eager to get their turn and a couple of nights later they were able to hike their way over to Anisfield for their overnight. The boys were really into making s’mores and immediately starting searching for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick. I’m not sure if you know this, but finding the perfect roasting stick is serious business here at CW! The stick is what makes or breaks your s’more! It’s easy to say that we have some professional s’mores roasters in this year’s Chalutzim group. I think I had 5 or 6 boys make me s’mores while I enjoyed time around the campfire with them. The s’mores were delicious but the conversations were even better!
What about Ohalim!?! Well, Ohalim has been busy planning Shabbat for this week. This week’s Torah portion is Chukat which tells the story of Moses and Aaron and needing to bring water to the Israelites. God appeared to them and told them to take their rod and order the rock to yield its water. Instead Moses took his rod and struck the rock twice. The water poured out of the rock, but God told Moses and Aaron that “Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.”
It’s a powerful story and our Ohalim village has picked an appropriate theme for this week – Don’t be a fool, follow the rules! They have planned an amazing skit for Saturday morning services depicting the Parsha and their song for the week is “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. We are all eagerly awaiting another wonderful Shabbat together. Ohalim is sure to shine!
This weekend we will say goodbye to our Rishonim I campers and welcome a new group of Rishonim II campers. I’ve already had two Rishon campers ask to stay two more weeks. When I hear that, it tells me that our staff has been doing a superb job, our camp program is fun, challenging, and exciting and our campers are finding that this is truly their Home of Happiness.
June 22nd, 2012
Wow…My first note to our camp community since the start of the summer. I hope that you check in weekly to hear (read) about all the excitement happening out at CW!
I would like to take the time to thank the Camp Wise community. I know that this is my 4th summer here at CW, but it feels like a new journey for me. You have shown me so much support over the last year that this summer couldn’t have started off any better than it did. I’ve appreciated all the help, from planning for a new food service - which I’m happy to report has been given 2 thumbs up by the campers and staff; to new programs - Camp Wise Rock, wakeboarding, and Fit Club; to all the families that host our staff on days off. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Camp Wise wouldn’t be a premier overnight camp without your support.
So, how does the magic start….
Saturday night, just hours before the campers arrived, we had our final campfire of staff training week. Returning staff members shared their favorite memories of their years at Wise (many of whom have been here for 9, 10, …even 13 years!), and new staff members shared their excitement for what was to come. New and old, one message came through loud and clear – for all of us, this summer is about creating FUN meaningful memories for our campers and creating a safe space for each and every one of them to feel a sense of belonging.
That sense of belonging happens before the campers even get on the bus…
And continues as soon as the get off the bus!
What an amazing beginning to our summer. We have campers from all of Ohio and all over the world. It was so exciting to see everyone reconnect after a year apart. Watching friends pick right back up like they were together yesterday, seeing new campers smiling from ear to ear about being in such a welcoming environment, and just the pure excitement of joining together for the first night as one community under the Camp Wise skies is unbelievable.
Of course all beginnings can’t be perfect. RAIN, RAIN, go away, come back another day! In the first 24 hours of camp we battled the rain, but it hasn’t put damper on our spirits. The ruach in the Chadar is contagious…
You guessed it, those are 517 people singing and cheering for no particular reason except that they love being at camp!
We are in full swing and activities are off to a fantastic start, and everywhere in camp there are exciting programs underway. Campers have auditioned for our Trip 1 show – Oliver Twist. At arts and crafts all sorts of creative juices are flowing. At pottery, kids have already had a spin on the wheels.
The rec fields have been crazy with activity with kids running around on the upper fields! The mountain bikers have already taken to the trails and I’ve seen a few bulls-eyes down at archery. This Saturday we will be joined by 2 JCC Personal Trainers to begin our first session of Camp Wise Fit Club! Club Rock made their first few appearances as Camp Wise Rock started working with campers on stage presence and performing. I was able to spend some time at our Ropes Course area cheering on our campers as they overcame some of their fears. It was quite amazing to see the look of accomplishment on their faces!
The lake has been the perfect place to cool off in the heat this week, and between canoeing, kayaking, playing on the water toys, and riding on our jet skis, the lake is holding strong this summer as an all-time favorite area of campers and staff alike. With the addition of wakeboarding we have already had a handful of campers “shredding” through the water. The pool has been full every day as well, and in Chalutzim and Ohalim swims lessons we’ve developed a whole crew of future Olympian swimmers!
You would think a full day of camp activities would be enough to tire out any camper, but after dinner this week the excitement has stayed strong. Evening programs have been hilarious and fun, and each village has used their evening time programs as an opportunity to bring their village together, help everyone get to know each other, and have some great cabin bonding. Chaluztim has tried to find Where’s Waldo in an exciting all camp scavenger hunt. The competed against each other in their very own Chalutzim Olympics and had an amazing Hawaiian Luau down at the lake. Ohalim has been off to a great start combining two favorites – wrestling for the boys and Disney princesses for the girls. Their first evening program was a smash as each cabin was given a Disney Princess and their cousnelors “wrestled” until there was one champion. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life! Noar had their annual counselor scavenger hunt. Each cabin was given clues of places around camp and they had to located the next counselor while completing a silly task for the next clue. Last night at MTV night, each cabin created a band and performed a song (lip sync style). The costumers were outrageous!
Solel departed on their first trip of the session and returned as a more united village. They spent time at another JCC overnight camp, Tamarack Camps, and shared the CW spirit with them. The took in a Detroit Tigers baseball game and watched my home town St. Louis Cardinals walk away with the victory. Go Cards! The next day they spent the day on Lake Erie learning how to sail. The weather held up and they were able to hold a mini-regatta and enjoy fun in the sun. We’re glad they’re back, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about their trip over Shabbat!
I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to our first Shabbat. Our Noar campers have been working so hard at preparing a wonderful service. Shabbat is a special day at camp where the entire community comes together to spend time reflecting on our past week and getting ready for the excitement to come. Singing, cheering, and connecting to our own personal Judaism is one thing that makes Camp Wise so special. Our services, run by our campers, can be extremely powerful and moving. Together as one community in the Chadar, lighting the Shabbat candles, and enjoying dinner, is an experience that I’m so thrilled to be a part of.
I wish each and every one of you a Shabbat Shalom!
February 10. 2012 - click hereto read
December 12, 2011 - click hereto read
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