Monthly Archives: סיון / תמוז תשעא - July 2011
In Gan Israel, the staff are always trying to find ways to make the camp experience richer. Rich with excitement and fun, but also with meaning and significance. To that end, this year, Gan Israel has introduced a calendar for the year 5772. On each page of the calendar, there are spaces for pictures of the Rebbe which correspond to that day. There are pictures for Yomei D’pagra and pictures for Erev Yomim Tovim, among others. Campers earn stickers with pictures of the Rebbe for Davening with Kavana, learning with Hasmoda, and behaving in ways that make the Rebbe proud.
Then, they stick the pictures over the days on the calender to which they apply. These small pictures are earned from their counselors and learning teachers throughout all parts of the day. Every month on the calender also has one special Rebbe picture which represents a major Inyan for that month. These pictures are very rare and can only be rewarded by one of the Head Staff for very special behavior. Campers are all anxiously collecting as many pictures of the Rebbe as they can as they try to complete their calender.
At the end of the summer iy’h every camper will take home a full calender to use throughout next year. As the year progresses, campers (summer never ends, summer never ends), can look at their calender and live each day with a picture from the Rebbe that they earned through hard work and perseverance in doing things that make the Rebbe proud.
The first month was good. I liked it. Because I like soft serve and there was a lot of soft serve this month. To write or not to write? That is the question. A very deep one indeed. It’s hard to write about a month that was so full. Where to start? Where to start? Hmm… first day everyone arrived and unpacked, joining up with their bunks, ready to start an amazing summer. Within the first week they were off to Skate Estate, to roll in circles and avoid knocking into each other. In the midst of all that spinning in circles there was laser tag (which I personally think should be spelled “lazer” tag) going on in another room.
It felt like the summer had barely started when cars came pouring in from all directions, filled with family and friends who had come for visiting day. In case anyone could be bored on such a busy day, the camp provided a carnival with many great blowup games and activities. (Not to imply that any of the games blew up but rather that they were blown up before use.) I personally inspected and tested some of the rides and can verify that while they may not have been suitable for a twenty year old (which would explain why it seemed easier to go over those little tunnels than to try to squeeze through them) they were loads of fun anyway.
The next major event was the bivouac. No one’s really sure why it’s called that, but think it must be an old Indian word for sleeping in the rain without shelter. Anyway, every three bunks had their own fire. Wood was graciously provided by the camp, but if the fire was to last all night (as is the tradition) much more wood would need to be gathered. (Wood and would are homonyms). So as soon as all the tents were up (or – for the real men – as soon as the sleeping bags were unrolled) everyone fanned out to collect more wood, and brought back at least three or four times what had been graciously provided. The singing eating and scary stories went late into the night, till finally the campers (or most of them at least) went to sleep, while the counselors stayed up for the important task of watching the fire (read: take turns eating roasted marshmallows and throwing all of the hard collected wood into the fire). In the morning was an all-natural nature breakfast (read: eggs cooked in a pan over easy-light-soaked-in-lighter-fluid-coals in a grill).
One fine Tuesday morning the campers were intrigued to learn that the inspectors were here.It struck them as strange that they would come twice in four days, but the staff reassured them that the inspectors can come as often as they want, even twice in one week. The “inspectors” were actually yeshiva bochurim from the nearby camp HASC summer program, who had agreed to come to camp, and act as inspectors. In a fiery speech by H.C. Moshe Shemtov, describing all of the things that the inspectors had found wrong and outlining the ramifications of all of the “violations” the camp had incurred, he ended off “and so from today and till tomorrow night will be BOG WAR!” Bog war this year was a memorable one indeed, from the hilarious scavengers to the grand plays, from the great songs to the catchy cheers that each team made. As one staff member put it “-insert cool one liner here-”.
Towards the end of the first month, the campers began to smell that something was up when several buses pulled up into the camp. They probably felt a bit of a let-down when H.C. Rafi Steiner announced that Gan Israel was going to watch an international chess tournament. The breakout concluded, when Rafi finally announced that it was none other than the grand trip to Lake Compounce! By the way, Lake Compounce is a combination of a water park and an amusement park. The campers made a true Kiddush Lubavitch by always keeping their Yarmulkas and Tzitzis on while walking around the park, and even on the rides. They played and played until finally the park closed, and they didn’t get back to camp until 2:45 AM (that’s 1:45 camp time).
After such an amazing first month, with all of those trips and activities, not to mention things like banana boating or pizza bowling (which unfortunately does not involve rolling pizza down the lanes), or winning Shabbos competition, or the KIWI championship, I’m majorly looking forward to another great month of camp!
On Thursday, campers scratched their heads in confusion as coach buses pulled in to camp. “More Inspectors?” some of them speculated, but no, it was only GRAND TRIP!! As the buses loaded up for the trip to Lake Compounce, campers and staff alike were given bottled water and reminded about the importance of staying hydrated and sticking together so that no one gets lost. After an exciting bus ride featuring videos of skits put together by the Shmaryunkee (or Shmaryonky or… whatever) members, we arrived at Lake Compounce! This amazing amusement/water park was completely rented out by several frum camps, so we had the place all to ourselves. Campers had a blast, running from one ride to another stopping only for another cup of (free!) soda.
Between getting soaked on the water rides, bumped on the bumper cars, and swung about on the roller coasters, the campers just couldn’t stop having fun!
On Sunday afternoon, the camp was visited by two “inspectors” who walked around the camp “inspecting” the grounds and the bunks. Only, they weren’t inspectors, they were the Hiskashrus War breakout!! Head Counselor Moshe Shemtov broke the news to us, and after a speech in the Shul, the camp was split into three teams:
עבר-Tradition, led by General Shimon Gorkin and Lt. Generals Shaykee Farkash and Mendel Blesofsky
הוה-Transition, led by General Simcha Raskin and Lt. Generals Sholom Gelernter and Chezky Weiss
עתיד-Future, led by General Nochum Shapiro and Lt. Generals Sruli Bronstein and Avraham Mishulovin.
The Generals led their teams in their cheers, after explaining to them the meaning of their team’s name in Avodas Hashem. The next 30 hours were packed with fun and excitement as campers worked to improve their Hiskashrus with the Rebbe by reviewing Tanya by heart, working on their Kabolas Ol and Ahavas Yisroel, and singing songs about Heilike Inyonim. As staff members furiously prepared for the plays and scavengers, campers got involved with props, backdrops, and rehearsing their parts. After three plays, three speeches, six scavengers, and countless lines of Tanya, the points were in!
And the winner is……….!!!!עבר (insert water here)
This week, the entire camp went on an overnight camping trip, (or “bivouac”). Some camped out nearby in the “Rebbe’s Forest”, while others went a bit further and drove far away for their trip. At the campsite, campers spent time setting up tents and campfires followed by barbecuing and farbrenging. Everybody had a blast and it was a really amazing experience.
Campers at Camp Gan Israel – Parksville enjoyed an overnight camping trip, setting up tents and campfires followed by barbecuing and farbrenging with their counselors.
Many of the families left camp for a while to go spend the day together, while others spent time together in canteen or the square. In addition to the excitement of visitors, there were several attractions set up for the campers. Campers shot hoops on the inflatable basketball court, while others were running an obstacle and rope course. There were many campers playing on the blow-up slides and moon-bounce, while still others were having amazing time trying out the rock-climbing.
All in all, there were many happy faces to be seen throughout visiting day, as campers and company spent time catching up, eating delicious food, and just having fun. As the day wound to a close, bunk houses were stocked and restocked with enough nosh for an army. Campers gave emotional goodbye hugs to their families and told them they want to stay for another month. Parents gradually made their way to the exit as the campers lined up for Mincha.
Leagues kicked off the beginning of this week with a bang and all the teams are racing for the top. Each division has a different theme featuring elter Chassidim like Reb Hillel Paritcher and Binyomin Kletzker, old shtetlach, like Nevel or Kremenchug, or the Rebbes niggunim – Anim Zemiros, Stav Yapitu, and so on. I have to say, it’s pretty cool to see campers sitting by their teams, singing niggunim, or yelling names of towns rarely ever spoken of any more.
Tuesday the whole camp went to New York for Gimmel Tammuz. In the morning all the campers were encouraged to go to mikva, daven and act as a Chossid should on such a day, in order to truly be the Rebbe’s children. Following breakfast the camp divided into three groups for a general learning class featuring stories and lesson from the Rebbe, Then, together with their learning teachers, they all wrote panim. Lunch, Mincha, and onto the buses for a trip to the Ohel. The bus trip flew by while the campers enjoyed special videos prepared by the staff. At the Ohel all the campers read their tehillim and panim as they slowly filed into the Ohel. Next they were off to Campus Chomesh for a delicious supper and farbrengen , along with singing and live music. Then back onto the buses and before you knew it, we were back in camp, exhausted and inspired.
From good gashmius comes good ruchnius or in the words of the Mishnah in Avos: “im ein Kemach ein Torah” – if there is no flour [i.e. food] there is no Torah. On Thursday evening, campers watched, befuddled, as the dining room was emptied of tables, but all soon became clear as they were brought to the square and grills were fired up for a grand barbeque outside! Following the delicious food the whole camp participated in a game highlighting fun trivia questions about camp. What a night!
From Gan Israel, here’s wishing you a Good Shabbos!
The first Shabbos in camp was beautiful to see! From Friday night singing to mishnayos bal peh, all the bunks were trying so hard to win Shabbos competition that it took head counselors Raphi, Moshe and Shmulik quite some time to decide. After talking it over for a while they decided that the winners were Bunk Bais from N.O.D. and Bunk Zayin and Chaf Daled from the two older divisions. As head counselor Raphi Steiner said before the winners were announced: “These bunks were outstanding, from bedside inspection on Erev Shabbos until the end of Havdalah, and the entire time in between, whether it was singing davening or benching”. Mazel Tov to the winners!
A Chof Ches Sivan farbrengen was held Thursday for the staff of Camp Gan Israel in Parksville, NY, with the camp directors Rabbi Abraham Shemtov and Rabbi Yossi Futerfas.
We’re up and rolling again!!!!
CGI got off on an amazing start with a smashing first three days, and as always – “has it really already been three days?” – each day is so full of fun and excitement it just flies by, and by the time you stop to think, a whole day’s gone and another’s coming up. So let’s see… Tuesday everyone arrived to a greeting of chocolate and cinnamon danishes with a glass (alright plastic but it sounds better) of cold milk. The scene of every year repeated itself as old campers, counselors and learning teachers greeted each other and everyone got ready to begin another amazing summer. After a speech from the head counselors the bunks were split and everyone got settled in. Wednesday began the learning program with the splitting of the kvutzas, and the first couple of classes. Thursday was the first trip, to Skate Estate, where the campers spun themselves dizzy on the roller skating rink got soaked on the water slides and then tried target practice (on each other) in the laser tag area. In short, between great cookies in the morning, great activities, great learning program, great meals and one great trip, I’d say we’re off to a great start!