Monthly Archives: August 2011

Alumni Flashbacks

Looking back, Camp has always played such an important role in our lives.   Renee and I began dating in the summer of 1998, the year I was Rosh Mayim and she was a second year member of Tzevet Mayim.  We were married in 2007 and welcomed future Ramahnick, our daughter, Sienna Rose into our family in January of 2010.  Ever since we both made the tough decision not to return to camp for “one more summer” we have been involved with the Alumni Association.

From playing in the Sunday night RBA league, to both of us separately heading up the Labor Day Committee, and then finally this past year working together to Co-Chair the committee for the first annual Purim Carnival, Renee and I have always remained connected to Ramah in some form.  In the past our involvement with the Alumni Association was for selfish reasons as it allowed us to hold on to that feeling of community that we had the moment we would step foot into Camp.  There was always something special, almost magical, how we could spend an entire year away from our Ramah family and within an instant it was like we never left.

Now, as parents, our reasons for remaining involved have changed.  They are so that Sienna and her cousins Ella and Max (and any future siblings or cousins) will have the opportunity to have that special feeling that we were lucky enough to experience for so many years.  Of course, if they are as lucky as Renee and I have been, they too will one day have their name on the Shiddach Wall and know that at the end of each day they will come home to that magical feeling that we captured oh so many years ago.

Mark Covitt

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Kayitz 2011 Wrap Up

This past week, Camp closed the door on Kayitz 2011.  It was a great summer, full of Ramah magic.  Below are some highlights from the summer.

  • The Bogrim SABABA program was a huge success!  During the first week in August, all 94 members of the edah traveled to a different specialty camp experience.  Ranging from hiking in the Adirondecks to a culinary experience in New York to theater arts at the Brandeis BIMA program, campers participated in an intensive program of their choosing within the Ramah framework.  They returned enthusiastic and eager to share all they did!
  • Camp’s new climbing tower was officially unveiled over the summer.  The new structure, located on our expanding sports complex on the “golf course,” will have 8 different elements to use.
  • We held our 2nd annual Triathlon.  Campers swam a portion of the agam, then biked around Camp to one point, and ran the rest of the way.
  • Fencer Mikhail Sankofa, a tree-time Olympian and collegiate fencer spent five days at CRB introducing campers of all ages to the fine art of saber fencing.
  • Camp expanded its boating program, with classes offered in kayaks, canoes, row boats, peddle boats, and sailing.
  • A group of Tzeirim campers made their own tefillin with Rabbi Noah Greenberg.
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Kayitz 2011 – Gesher Update #7

It was a momentous last full week for Edat Hagesher.  Wednesday was Yom Daled and the theme for day was Yom Banim/Banot….. but switched. The Gesher girl counselors were in charge of the boys and exercised and cooked pancakes with the boys. The Gesher boy counselors played trivia and played competitive games with the girls. It was a great opportunity for the campers to get to know the tzevet of the opposite gender. Yom Daled was p

ut on hold for a bit, so that we could play Basketball for Bubbe. Va’ad Tzedakah, which is made up of Gesher chanichim, organized a basketball tournament and had B-Side chanichim sign up to play three on three games of basketball. They raised over $1,000 in memory of Libby “Bubbe” Kurland, a mainstay on our staff for many years and the head of our mitbachon, who passed away last fall. Our whole tzevet is so proud of our chanichim for the idea and for the tzedakah monies raised.

Thursday was Yom Seminar. Va’ad Gesher Fund presented Gesher 2010 to Gan Gesher. Gan Gesher was the idea of Gesher 2010 and they raised money form last year’s Gesher Fund and now it is a reality. It was a great time for Gesher 2011 to catch up with everyone that went on Seminar and hear about all the amazing opportunities that will have next summer in Israel on  Ramah Israel Seminar.

Thursday night was the annual Rikudiah that took place at the stadium courts. Gesher performed  two dances, and of course the chanichim were quite emotional as it was their last Rikudiah. Needless to say, Gesher chanichim still danced their hearts out!

The edah spent last week and this week focusing on its preparation for Yom Palmer. All of the chugim, or teams, trained immensely for their big day. Hopefully Palmer day on Sunday, will be a great success, and win or lose, each team will walk away with heads held high.

Monday is going to be Yom Machazeh.  All of the cast members are working strenuously to memorize lines, learn songs, and prepare dances. Others have been working on the scenery for the play and have also been gathering various props that will be vital to the play’s success. Everyone is truly working cohesively to ensure a memorable play and a success that ultimately exemplifies Edat Hagesher.

As the last Shabbat approaches for the Gesher chanichim, we are certain that it will not mark their last Shabbat as member of the Berkshires kehillah.  And even though it will be an emotional one, we know it will be fruitful in helping them to articulate their feelings about their relationship with Camp, Shabbat and being on the road to Jewish leadership.

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Kayitz 2011 – Machon Update #7

What a week it has been back at Camp! Our edah has been very happy to be back in Wingdale after our whirlwind trip last week and chanichim took part in a slew of Ramah activities for the past few days. After an insightful and restful Shabbat, chanichim got to enjoy their various chavayot such as Organic Gardening, Indian Cooking, Puppet Making and more on Sunday. That evening we had chanichim dress up as famous people for a “dance off party” where they tried out their best dance moves on a “runway” and enjoyed special snacks like mozzarella sticks and onion rings.

Monday, we enjoyed our regular schedule of activities like chavaya, yehadut and chug and prepared for the reading of Megillat Eicha that night. At this camp-wide event, each tzrif sat in a circle with a candle in the middle, following along to the megillah reading at the Stadium Court. Immediately following Eicha we split up by bunk to have various discussions about the meaning of Tisha B’Av for us today.

On Tisha B’Av we learned and discussed with Mishlachat members and then participated in our edah’s peulah – Baseless Hatred. Our peulah revolved around senseless hatred of Muslims in a post-9/11 world and chanichim learned about issues surrounding this topic today such as hijab bans in France, schita and halal ritual slaughter becoming illegal in the Netherlands, the Ground Zero Mosque and more about Islam in general. After our activities we watched the movie “Promises,” a documentary centered around Palestinian and Israeli children caught up in the Israeli-Arab conflict while trying to make peace with each other.

Wednesday was our Yom DaledYom Back to the Future,” where we participated in activities that our tzevet had done when they were the chanichim’s ages in Camp. We will be having a huge kickball game, throwing a “what are you wearing????” prom where chanichim dress up in wacky outfits, reading our journal from both of trips and playing “Connect the Edah” where we try and find a common thread that unites all sixty campers.

Thursday and today we had regular programming and enjoyed the Tzeirim play “School of Rock.”  The edah is having a bittersweet Shabbat as we prepare for our final Shabbat in Camp. The chanichim will also have the special opportunity tonight of ending shirah (Shabbat singing) in front of the chadar, as we transition into next year’s Gesher 2012!

You should all know how much I’ve enjoyed being a part of your children’s summer and how much this tzevet and I have loved getting to know each chanich and chanicha. We hope you have a Shabbat Shalom and are excited about getting to see your children so soon. Amy

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Kayitz 2011 – Bogrim Update #7

It has been a packed week for Bogrim and we are so sad that the summer is coming to an end soon.

Our Shabbat theme this week was all about Israel. During our Hachana (preparation for Shabbat) my Sgan Rosh (Eli Grossman) and I told personal stories about experiences we have had in Israel. During Peulat Shabbat our edah had stimulating discussions about the Women of the Wall and religious divides in Israel.

Because our edah had been split up on Sababa the week before, we decided to have Seudah Shlishit (dinner) together just as an edah. We sang Shabbat songs and concluded with informative and hysterical presentations by each Sababa group about their experiences. We were even  able to eat one of the delicious cakes the cooking Sababa made for us!

Sunday night we invited our chanichim to the “Bogrim Laugh Club” where our madrichim (counselors) served mozzarella sticks and french fries and put on a hilarious stand-up comedy show. Monday night marked the beginning of Tisha B’Av– the fast commemorating the destruction of the Temple. After reading from the book of Eicha (Lamentations) each tzrif had discussions about tolerance. Walking around to the different tzrifim made me very proud as a rosh edah as I listened in on the insightful discussions they were having. The next day the edah participated in activities and discussions about rebuilding after destruction. We played jenga, talked about building relationships during chug, and related Tisha B’Av to our modern lives.

Our Yom Daled this week was “Yom Tzevet Bogrim!” All day the chanichim did things that members of our tzevet love to do – Zumba, debate club, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and much more. The chanichim had a great time emulating their tzevet and even asked if they could get paid and hang out in the staff lounge!

Our final Shabbat theme will be “Shabbat Tichon” (Shabbat High School). We will get the chanichim pumped for Machon summer and have conversations about some of the issues and exciting experiences they will face in high school such as religion, cliques, and homework.

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Kayitz 2011 – Solelim Update #7

Even though the summer is nearly coming to a close, there are no signs of slowing down in Solelim!  This past week, Solelim went on two awesome tiyulim (trips), one to the Basketball Hall of Fame and to a New Britain Rock Cats minor league baseball game, and one to Kent Falls.  The chanichim had a wonderful time on both of the tiyulim, and even though the Rock Cats suffered a harsh defeat to the Altoona Curve, everyone had a great time cheering the team on!

After a camp-wide dinner on Monday night, we began the fast of Tisha B’Av.  Together, everyone sat by tzrif in circles at the Stadium Courts to hear Megillat Eicha be read.  It was a very poweful and meaningful experience, which was then followed b

y bunk discussions on themes that related to Eicha and to the destruction of the Temple. On Tuesday, after tefillot, the chanichim had another discussion about how to maintain ahavat chinam among the different denominations within Judaism.  It was interesting to hear all of the introspective comments that the chanichim shared in response to the thought-provoking questions posed to them by their madrichim.

Solelim is now gearing up for its final Shabbat of Camp, “Shabbat Solelim Ole,” during which we will take a look back on all of the exciting events of the summer and all of the new friendships that were formed, and think about how to carry this summer with them when they leave next week.  Then, on Sunday, Solelim will be joining the rest of Machaneh Bet as we head to Camp Ramah in New England for some friendly sports competition. B’Hatzlachah to all the teams!

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Kayitz 2011 – Tzerim Update #7

We started the week in full strength, as each tzrif had its own special day planned out for our second Yom Tzrif! The extremely creative madrichim planned such days as “Snow white and the Seven Dwarves,” with each perek corresponding to a different  Disney dwarf’s personality. Another theme was “cave men” that gave the chanichim a chance communicate in grunts and climb the rock wall!

Monday we had a bit of routine before getting ready for Tisha B’Av. After the camp-wide reading of Eicha, the edah went back to their tzrifim for special activities planned by their madrichim, to fit the mood of the day. One of the tzrifim watched a video about Alex Singer z”l, an American who died fighting for Israel. They also discussed the meaning of his sacrifice, and how important it is for us to learn from his love of life and Israel.

Other tzrifim ran peulot about sinat chinam and all of the madrichim were impressed by the seriousness of the chanichim and the deep thoughts that they expressed.

Tuesday, the day of Tisha B’Av, was also very meaningful, beginning with the special prayers we recited duringtefila, the extremely well prepared yahadut perek that captured the halachic meaning of the day. We also had an edah activity that focused on the biblical aspect of the day, of what it meant to lose the temple and what that means to us as modern Jews.

Our Yom Daled this week was Yom Machaze! We spent the day preparing for our play- Bet Sefer LeRock (School of Rock)! Chanichim were putting the final touches on scenery, props, stage directions and of course- practicing songs and lines! The whole edah took part in the play, everyone in the area that they felt the most comfortable in. The play was a huge success!

Now we are all getting ready for the chanichim’s last Shabbat on A-Side. We will be attending the tefillot on Machaneh Bet and have activities planned that will capture both their great times on Machaneh Alef, and everything they have to look forward to on B-Side. At the end we have a special havdalla planned that will signify their graduation.

It’s been great having this one sided communication with you over the past seven weeks. I had an amazing time with your children, and thank you for lending them to me. If you ever find yourself in Israel, look me up!

Shabbat Shalom

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Kayitz 2011 – Shorashim Update #7

Our last full week at Camp has been quite exciting! It began with our regularly scheduled activities, with a little bit of practice for the Rikudiah and a picture scavenger hunt for peulat erev. On Monday night we ate a camp-wide dinner and began the fast of Tisha B’Av together, reading Aicha as a machane on the stadium courts. It was quite a powerful and meaningful evening, each tzrif sitting in a circle surrounding a yortzeit candle as we listened to the chanting of the beautiful megillah. The next day we learned about sinat chinam, discussed different tzedakah organizations, wrote messages to put in the Kotel and discussed the significance of knocking down a tower of cups (symbolizing the Beit Hamikdash). We also had very special davening, watched Remember the Titans and a beautiful closing Tekes.

On Wednesday we went on an incredible tiyul, first going to Castle Fun Center, where every chanich and chanicha played minigolf, went on go-carts and played at their arcade. The chanichim had a blast! We then went to Thomas Bull Memorial Park, where we had a picnic, played sports and had fun at the playground. At the end of the day we came back to Camp for the delicious bishul and rocked out at Tzeirim’s play, School of Rock.

Thursday night was the Rikudiah (dance festival), during which our edah had much ruach and a great time, dancing to a song called Mishpacha – quite fitting for our Shorashim family. Friday was Boker Tzrif, a day for our chanichim to bond and have fun as a tzrif, with themes ranging from Boker Mission Statement, Boker Boy Bands, and Boker Celebrity, to Boker Flower Power, Boker Mishpacha and Boker Yom Hofesh (day off). The chanichim had an amazing fun-filled day before beginning a relaxing Shabbat. During the last Shabbat of Camp, we will reflect on the summer and think about how we can bring the amazing experiences of Ramah home with us.

It has been a pleasure working with Shorashim this summer, and I can’t wait to see everyone B’kayitz 2012!

Shabbat Shalom!

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Kayitz 2011 – Nitzanim Update #7

What a fantastic week in Nitzanim!

On Tisha B’Av we learned about Jerusalem as a modern city. We visited different spots in Jerusalem including drawing the Jerusalem skyline at the tayelet (walkway with amazing views), learned to bargain at Machaneh Yehudah, and wrote notes to go into the Kotel.

We also learned about ahavat chinam (unconditional love), and watched the movie “Paper Clips”  in the afternoon. Overall it was an educational and informative day.

On Wednesday we went to Quassy Amusement Park. There we rode rollercoasters, went on a giant waterslide, and played at the saturation station. We of course finished the day with ice cream! Overall everyone had a blast!

On Friday we all enjoyed Boker Tzrif and each of our bunks had amazing and varied themed activities all morning, while we gear up for an exciting and fun last Shabbat and week in Camp.

Shabbat Shalom from Nitzanim!

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Kayitz 2011 – Cochavim Update #7

What a fantastic week we’ve had in Cochavim!  We ended last week with Shabbat Disney, in which we discussed friendship as related to “Toy Story” and looking past appearances as related to “Beauty and the Beast.”  We finished Shabbat with a sing-down, in which teams faced off against each other to see who could name the most songs with words like cochav or star, tinok or baby, and ahava or love.

On Sunday night we played the “Machine Game,” in which the tzrifim (bunks) worked together to build parts of machines with their bodies and to come together as a whole unit.

Monday night was the beginning of Tisha B’Av, and we sat on the stadium courts with the entire camp for Eicha.  On Tuesday morning we discussed what Tisha B’Av really means.  We built the Beit Hamikdash (Temple) out of Legos and then destroyed

it to talk about what destruction feels like, read a midrash about Kamtza and Bar Kamtza to talk about sinat chinam (senseless hatred), and cleaned and decorated Beit Cochavim to talk about ahavat chinam (unconditional love).  In the afternoon we watched “Beauty and the Beast” and related it to our earlier conversations about sinat chinam and ahavat chinam.  

On Wednesday we went on our edah trip.  We started off the morning at Fun Factor USA, where we bounced on inflatable slides and jumped on the velcro wall.  After lunch, we went bowling and tested our skills (with bumpers, of course).  No trip would be complete without ice cream, so we stopped at Carvel on our way back to Camp.  We finished the day off with a movie, and watched “Hercules” before dinner.

We’re all looking forward to our last Shabbat of the summer.  Shabbat Shalom from Cochavim!!

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