Monthly Archives: תמוז / מנחם אב תשעב - July 2012
The grandson of R’ Hersh Chitrik OBM donated new roofed structures to advance learning at Camp Gan Israel in Parksville, NY.
By COLlive reporter
On the way to Siberia you will find 2 new gazebos.
This line – not from the National Geographic – might sound foreign to most, but to the campers of Camp Gan Israel in Parksville, NY, it is a source of excitement.
New roofed structures were recently placed on camp grounds (on the way to the Bar Mitzvah Division’s area known as “Siberia” due to its distance from the rest of the camp) for the use of learning classes.
They are the result of an ongoing effort to advance the learning level in Chabad’s veteran overnight camp for boys located in the Catskills.
The wooden gazebos with an open view of the surrounding area were donated by Mendy and Leah Schurder of Boca Raton, FL, in memory of his grandfather R’ Hersh Chitrik OBM, a learned man who supported educational causes.
“I would like to thank the Schurders for this generous gift that will enhance the learning experience of the campers in sunshine and rain,” says Rabbi Yossi Futerfas, director of the camp.
Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, long-time head of the camp and a friend of the late R’ Chitrik, said: “It is an approproate tribute to a person who was always looking to provide and improve facilities for chinuch.”
The learning program for the summer of 5772 is run by Rabbi Sholom Baras, Shazi Perman and Menachem Altein. A novel addition this year was the publication of a booklet of self-written pilpulim and chidushim by campers.
Rabbi Shemtov noted the Rebbe’s comment that Gan Israel is a Yeshiva from within, a camp from the outside, adding that this one will be the first of a new line of gazebos.
This addition to the camp will be on display when parents come to Upstate New York this Sunday for Visiting Day of the second month of camp.
Campers and Staff members in CGI gathered around a tree on Wednesday .
It wasn’t a bonfire or a survival course in the woods.
The tree which stood in the central square of Gan Yisrael was an iconic fixture for as long as people can remember.
Nailed to it were direction signs with the signature nicknames pointing to areas in the camp. “Siberia” on the right, “Turkey” and “Texas” on the left.
While it didn’t have navigation to actual points in the camp (where exactly is the “arts & crafts” pointing to?), it’s creative carvings served as an introduction to the camp’s spirit for new campers and a meeting point for bunks and groups of friends.
Wednesday, as the directors of the camp, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov and Rabbi Yossi Futerfas, were strolling the grounds, they saw a staff member leaning on the tree and noticed that it was very shaky. A staff member was called in, and without any ado, he shoved it over. The GM’s (general managers) were then summoned to slice it up, and cart it away.
While the less sentimental ones remarked “it’s just a tree…” Others standing around watching with emotion stated it was “the end of an era.”
By Yehuda “No ‘H’” Fenton
Camp Gan Yisroel. These words evoke emotions in thousands of people, from the young boy timidly entering camp for the first time, to the elderly Chossid reminiscing over his childhood. Every person that has spent time here leaves with the messages and values of this camp deeply ingrained in their hearts, and they are left with a deep impression of the wonderful times spent in the summer. One cannot know which of the many events in camp will stay with us, but it’s always something.
Although the summer is far from over, one cannot help but grow nostalgic as the first half of camp winds to an end. There have been so many brilliant moments this month that to leave it all until the end of camp seems unfair. I therefore feel compelled to present you with a glimpse of the first month at CGI.
Within the first few days of camp, we had already been treated to a phenomenal barbecue which even the most recalcitrant camper couldn’t help but love. As the campers slowly began to fall into the rhythm of camp, the first heartwarming Shabbos drew us all in. Shabbos ended with the beloved Shmaryunki, helping us to laugh and break the last vestige of nervousness from the beginning of camp.
Although it was easy to get lost in the first few whirlwind days of camp, I couldn’t help but notice the return of the beloved regulars of camp and a few welcome newcomers. Night Activity was still as side-splitting as always, the activities were just as engaging, and the sports was still intense, yet fun. As well, this year I got to meet a new survival director, head lifeguard, and arts and crafts team. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a beautiful new grounds to delight in and explore.
Besides that, a new learning program was introduced, and we all got a chance to meet our learning teachers. Whether you’re in Bunk Aleph learning mishnayos, or Bunk Chuf-Aleph exploring the intricacies of Gemara, there was something for everyone. The far reaching expectations of the the Kiwi competition allowed for boundless growth among the campers and stirred much anticipation among the learning teachers
The first full week featured an inspiring Farbrengen from R’ Baras, and a spectacular trip to Skate Estate. The trip included something for everybody. There was rollerskating and laser tag and even a chance to get out of the sweltering heat in an enormous water slide. In short, it was the perfect first trip of camp.
With this wonderful beginning of camp, things just got better as we launched into the next week. Monday began with a breakout for bivouac. Within hours, we were off to an amazing camping trip. The bivouac included the bonfires, niggunim, and Baal Shem Tov stories that so characterize the Gan Yisroel bivouac. The camaraderie and unity that the overnight evoked were truly heartwarming.
Within days of our return, BOG war began. Teams of Tehillim, Tanya, and Chumash all vied for the lead. Although there was only one winning team, the scavengers, plays, and songs of every team have been rehashed ever since. It was an intense twenty-four hours, and as the head counselors announced Team Chumash as the champions, all the staff and campers went into Shabbos tired but satisfied.
With all the excitement of camp, the time really flew by, and before we knew it it was time for the Grand Trip. Death-defying drops, exhilarating rides, and addictive games filled the final trip for the first month. Although the rains closed down the park near closing time, they had no hope of smothering the fiery of spirit of CGI.
The excitement of the last few days of the first half electrified the atmosphere in camp. After a Shabbos imbued with niggunim and chassidishkeit, we finished of with the grand banquet. The meal was permeated with a sense of sorrow as we said farewell to the last month, and excited speculation of the next. Awards were given out to those who excelled in sports and learning class, and the best camper of each bunk was announced.
With this, the first half ended. We can unanimously say we had a great time the first month. With tremendous amounts of learning accomplished, thrilling activities and phenomenal trips, Camp Gan Yisroel has reasserted its prominence in so many hearts throughout the world.
For every one of us camp has always been a life changing experience, and if the first half of camp is any indication, CGI 5772 will be no exception.
By Yehuda “No ‘H’” Fenton
Gan Yisroel has always been famous for their phenomenal choice in staff. The steady flow of dedicated, talented, and Chassidishe staff members has long been a hallmark of CGI. This year’s incredibly eclectic group is no exception.
Among these marvelous staff members includes our versatile survival director, Yosef Shmuel Serebryanski. Brought to us from Melbourne, Australia, this staff member has single handedly revolutionized our idea of his position. Presenting a vast variety of talents, from rope making to Safrus, Yossi has figured out how to teach a wide range of topics with a vibrant interest that holds the campers spellbound.
His survival course has taught campers many important wilderness techniques, from teaching the many uses of rope that one should know to how to start a fire without matches. He first explained that rope could be used to make a shelter, a hammock, and trap small game. Then he showed us how, through rubbing two sticks together, one could start a fire and survive in almost any wilderness situation. Finally, he showed them how to gain a high vantage point in the wilderness using only a rope and a tree. This survival director has taught the campers to feel confident when they stride within the forest.
Yet R’ Serebryanski didn’t only stay in the forest. His talent continued on to learning class. Although tzitzis and safrus courses are common fare in camp, this class was unlike any that’s been done before. He used his versatile talents to not only teach the specific mitzva, but also how to handcraft every component.
The tzitzis course started by him presenting a bag of yellow, uncombed wool. Then he cleaned a piece of that raw wool and explained how it gets turned into a full bag of that pure white wool that we usually imagine. Once this wool was ready, it could be processed through carefully spinning into actual strings. Ultimately, each camper was handed finished strings and tzitzis cards and taught how to tie their own tzitzis.
His safrus course was just as multi-faceted and absorbing. Once again, he began with the raw material by bringing a goat skin, with the hair still on it. He showed how this skin was cleaned, stretched, and dried to turn it into Klaff. The most remarkable element of this presentation was that he not only did this all himself, but he also made all the equipment by hand.
Once the parchment was ready, ink was needed. This ink could have been purchased, but the intrepid survival director decided to make this himself as well The ink could be made by either collecting soot from a wax candle or delicately mixing reactive metals with certain acids to get the rich, black ink required for safrus. This ink, after it was thickened, could be used to write the magnificent letters of the hebrew alphabet in various scripts.
As if this technical demonstration was not thrilling enough, he also wove the intricate and complex halachic details into his presentation. Culling from a wide variety of sources, ranging from the basic to the escoteric, he gave an incredibly informative and engaging course.
One might think that with so much on his plate, Yossi wouldn’t have time to be involved with the day to day activities in camp. However, he was ever present, with a full bag of balloons ready to be blown and tied. The survival director could be seen throughout camp filling balloons with air and tying them into hilarious shapes. He formed hats, dogs, and roses to the delight of the crowd of onlookers that had gathered when he began performing his craft.
This incredibly talented staff member is getting married during the second month of camp and therefore had to leave. In his words, “I would love to stay but I have to get married, and the head counselors said it was a good excuse.”
Although we all celebrate his simcha with him, his absence will be sorely missed. Despite Gan Yisroel’s dedicated and talented staff, the team of teachers required to fill his shoes might present a challenge even to Parksville. Yet, I can assure you that camp will stay true to form by providing more marvelous activities and thereby continue the spectacular summer here at CGI.