After a very topsy and turvy topsy-turvy day, routine began to settle in. During learning classes all campers were given their first test of the second month. Campers spent the past few learning classes reviewing what they had learned over the past week and half. The dedicated learning teachers of the rebbes camp, besides all their time spent preparing learning classes, spent hours to arrange and write the tests.
For the duration of the first morning learning session, tests were given out in the dining room. Many campers of the younger division crowded within, enthusiastic to put their knowledge onto paper. Afterwards, throughout the subsequent morning session, the older campers in addition came inside the dining room, to complete their tests.
Following Mincha in the Shul, campers stayed to listen to a very special Siyum. Since we are within the nine days, Siyumim are being made each day by various dedicated staff members. Today a Siyum was made, by the devoted learning teacher Zalman Korf, on the whole Mesechte Sotah! This follows yesterdays Siyum, by the devoted learning teacher Yehoshua Dubinsky, on the entire Mesechte Psachim!
As nighttime fell, campers were treated to a very special play performed by the Masmidim. The soccer field lit up under the glaring rays of the spotlights, as the masmidim performed splendidly.
As campers woke to a bright day in Gan Israel, they were informed that Topsy-Turvy day is approaching. Havoc broke out as the campers began to envision themselves serving the many functions of the dedicated staff of Gan Yisroel. After lunch the campers were given forms containing the various jobs in camp that were up for grabs. The campers had to choose a job and than obtain 100 signatures including 50 from the staff. The square was swarming with campers as they rushed to fill out their the forms. A frantic search for the staff began. The window of the lobby was covered with many beautiful posters, urging the campers to vote for them. After heavily campaigning the whole day, the campers settled down to eat a delicious supper. Afterwards the campers headed towards the shul for a very special night-activity. Campaign promises including “No raising hands” by the potential head-counselors, “Six flags” by the potential trip-managers and many more were announced at night-activity as NADMH introduced the potential candidates. Campers Chaim Eilenberg and Levi Plotkin automatically won the jobs of van drivers, camper Menachem Mendel Glazman won truck driver and camper Shneor Kotlarsky won assistant head counselor. Each camper was than handed a form containing the names of all the successful candidates, and were given the opportunity to vote. The campers than davened Maariv and headed to their bunks, everyone full of excitement from the days events and eager to find out the results tomorrow…
After many hours spent last night counting and recounting the votes, the dedicated staff went to rest a bit before giving over the great task of running Gan Yisroel, over to a fresh crew of campers.
Everybody woke up Wednesday morning to the hi-pitched voice of Ari Treitel, who took over the task of “the voice of CGI”. Meanwhile as all the exited campers started jumping out of their bunks, the newly appointed division head Yisroel New was busy pouring cocoa at the BMD Seder chasidus, and head lifeguard Yossi Dalfin was busy supervising, as the Mikvah opened. The kitchen was also boosted up with the help of Mashgiach Mendy Avtzon.
The campers (and counselors) stood by line-up as Motty Harlig, Mordy Harlig and Levi Scharfstein took over the strenuous job of Head Counselors. Everyone was eager to put on their very best behavior, as points were being given for bunk-competition. As everyone was headed for Davening, a very special crew of waiters was in middle of hearing Kriah in the waiter’s minyan. After they finished davening they headed towards the dining room following the direction of their very talented head waiter Yankel Hecht. Meanwhile the talented replacement for the great job of younger division head Avremi Raichik began leading the younger division in davening.
Beep-beep, the camp truck and vans roared out of camp, driven (nearly) by van drivers Chaim Eilenberg and Pinny Goldin and truck driver Mendy Glazman under the direction of their ECAD Yossi Hershkop. Meanwhile canteen manager Yankel Kievman rolled up his sleeves and started preparing for a long hard day in the canteen. The campers finished breakfast and than headed to their learning classes, some stopping off to get some expert medical advice from EMT Yossi Leches. A grim-faced Tzvi Meir Fellig, an equally serious Levi Harlig and Levi Chein took over the job of learning directors and began circling the campsite making sure that everyone was busy learning.
“Learning never ends, learning never ends” OM Ari Treitel announced as everyone headed for line-up. The head counselors dismissed everybody to lunch including a very special group of staff which included Shmais.com, whose job was taken over by Isaac Sufrin. After lunch the campers were dismissed to rest period where they were given their canteen, presented by CM Yankel Kievman. They than headed towards their activities, arranged by a very capable Program Director Shmuel Pearlstein. Towards the end of the day the campers were treated to a very special night-activity under the brilliant NAD Boruch Sholom Blesofsky.
The head counselors would like to thank their assistant Shneur Kotlarsky for his round-the-clock help, as well as general managers Shmuly Posner and Yaacov Dovid kotlarsky and their assistant Nochum Schapiro for their constant backup. Special mention goes to OD Motki Newirth who has a long night ahead of him.
Wednesday: The first hike of the second month took place on Wednesday for a few bunks. Light showers continued but camp ran as usual. For night activity, Moshegene divided the campers into three groups: Cows, Goats, and Chickens. They then played some wild game which required animal noises to be made. Moos and clucks etc. could be heard throughout camp.
For the youngest bunks in camp ( the youngest division) a sepperate night activity was made. These bunks were also notified of the “shower competition”, exclusively for the youngest division. Shower updates to come.
Thursday: Light showers continued and indoor activities took place. A special visit by a French journalist and photographer came to camp and was very impressed.
Night Activity was entitled Guess the Voice.” Recordings of various people in camp (staff-members and campers) were played and campers tried to guess who they were. Sounds fun
Monday morning: As the new campers arrived, those campers who were unfortunately not staying for the second month began to load onto buses. Tears ran down there eyes as they remembered the camp songs that had been pounded into their heads over the past few days.
All campers were then brought into the Shul to find out their bunks for the second month. After unpacking and relocating, the campers were gathered once again for the announcement of learning class Kvutzas. As the campers and teachers were announced, each Kvutza went off to there learning class locations for a brief 15 minute class.
Wednesday the 16th of Tammuz was a historic day in Camp Gan Yisroel in Parksville, NY.
For the first time in its 48 year history, CGI was host to a Siyum Sefer Torah on its campgrounds.
The Sefer Torah was written in honor of Ronald O. “Ari” Perelman on the occasion of his 60th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Mr. Perelman, a world renowned Baal Tzedaka and the billionaire owner of cosmetics giant Revlon made his first visit ever to the camp.
Shortly before 3:00pm, Perelman arrived via helicopter to Sullivan County Airport in Swan Lake, NY which also happens to be the former campgrounds of CGI.
Perelman was greeted @ the airport by Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov his longtime friend and Executive Director of Camp Gan Israel. From the airport Perelman along with Shemtov traveled via Perelman’s waiting Land Rover to Gan Yisroel.
Arriving @ Gan Yisroel, Mr. Perelman was greeted by the 500 k”ah campers, masmidim, yeshivas kayitz and staff members were lined both sides of the blacktop from the entrance of camp until the Shul. Everyone was wearing the brand new camp t-shirts. A visibly moved and beaming Perelman walked through with Rabbi Shemtov, waving to the campers along the way, while everyone sang “Haveinu Sholom Aleichem”.
A giant sign reading “THE REBBE’S “CAMP GAN ISRAEL” WELCOMES MR. RONALD PERELMAN” hung down from the main building. Perelman was overheard saying “it’s the biggest sign I’ve ever seen”.
At the entrance to the main building Mr. Perelman was given his own t-shirt which he then proceeded to put on over his shirt. After he donned the camp shirt everyone gave him a round of applause.
After a couple of minutes, the campers were all seated on benches on the front lawn and the Siyum Sefer Torah began with Sofer Moshe Klein assisting various members of the CGI staff as well as some of the distinguished guest including Cantor Joseph Malavony, Rabbi Benjy Stock & Rabbi Leima Minkowicz and of course Mr. Perelman in filling in the final letters of the Sefer Torah.
During the ceremony Rabbi Shemtov spoke for a few minutes about the great Simcha as well as Mr. Perelman’s philanthropy to the Rebbe, Bais Rivkah etc. Rabbi Shemtov recounted how the Rebbe once told Mr. Perelman that he is his “partner”.
Mr. Perelman was honored with Hagba and then the procession along with live music from Eli Lipsker and lebedik singing and dancing made its way into the Shul for the Atuh Huraysuhs and the joyous Hakofos.
Following the Hakofos, Mr. Perelman got onto the stage and delivered a few words of thanks. Mr. Perelman thanked everyone “not only for the great welcome” but for “the best birthday I’ve ever had” and went on to say that “now that I know the way” to camp “I will see you more often”. His remarks were greeted by loud cheering.
As Mr. Perelman left the Shul, all assembled joined in singing “Kee BeSimcha…”
Just before Mr. Perelman went into his car he stopped into the lobby where rabbi Shemtov showed him the pictures of the Rebbe when the Rebbe came to camp.
During his visit Mr. Perelman was also given a tour of camp by Rabbis Avrohom Shemtov & camp director Rabbi Yossie Futerfas.
B”H it was a wonderful, happy and historic day in camp and a day that will surely be remembered for a longtime to come.
Special thanks to all those who made this historic day possible especially Rabbi Benjy Stock.