Summer 2022 Week 7 Update

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I like when experiences come full circle. As sad as it is that Summer 2022 is coming to an end, the end of a Tevya summer is often marked by things coming full circle, and it fills me with hope and pride. At the talent show, our Birya Big Sisters sang “In My Dreams” by REO Speedwagon with their Dalia Little Sisters. It’s an adorable and special tradition that, for most campers, only happens twice in their Tevya career – once in Dalia, and once again in Birya. Birya ‘22 first sang this song when they were in Dalia with their Big Sisters, and now these Dalia ‘22 campers will get to do this again in 6 years as Birya ‘28 with their Little Sisters. It’s a moment that happens every summer, yet it still gives me the chills and takes my breath away.

Tevya is full of these traditions and special moments. The “passing down” of traditions from one generation to the next happens both formally and informally. Some of them are silly, and some are more serious, yet the impact of the moment is still the same. After Color War, for example, the Captains of each team will formally pass down a bandana to a Kinneret or Tel Yehuda camper from their team who stood out as a leader. The message is that regardless of what happens next summer when they’re in BTC, they truly stepped up as a leader this summer, and their contributions and attitude were noticed and appreciated. On Saturdays, we typically have a separate service for the Oles, and a service for the Tsofs and Bogs together. This morning, however, we had our Final Shabbat service of the summer together as one Tevya community. During the service, speeches from our BTC campers were sprinkled in. BTC campers shared remarks about their time as campers and the friends and memories they made along the way, noting how quickly their time went and imploring younger campers not to take their summer days on 1 Mason Road for granted. Whether it’s Final Shabbat, the passing down of a Color War bandana, or singing a song with your Big Sister, these moments become imprinted on younger campers and empower them to live each day and moment at camp to the fullest.

In our first newsletter, I shared with you a story that I told our counselors during orientation about the ripple effects of leadership. Walking around camp this past week and taking it all in, it was so easy to see how many positive ripples have been created this summer – not just by our staff, but by our campers as well. I saw so many genuine, silly, wholesome camp moments that reminded me of how wonderful of a gift a summer at Tevya can be, and how grateful I am to belong to a staff team and community that makes this gift possible. As parents, you should all be incredibly proud of your children for how well they have “done camp” this summer. From the moment the first car entered camp after a long wait in the testing line (again, sorry about that…) to the moment the last car exits onto Mason Road on Wednesday… this summer has been phenomenal. And while there’s still a few more days left to soak in all the magical moments and create even more ripples… we CANNOT wait to create more ripples next summer.

Community Health Update
Entering our final days of Summer 2022, we are still following our COVID-19 protocols. Other than that, we have been dealing with some cases of impetigo that we have been in touch with specific families and bunks about, and a virus that just won’t go away, but all of this is routine for camp at this point in the summer, unfortunately. 

Camp Activities
We started the week with the observance of Tisha B’Av with a service led by our Birya campers. On Sunday night, we sent our Oles and Bogs to Chunky’s Movie Theater where the Oles saw “DC League of Super-Pets” and the Bogs saw “Minions: The Rise of Gru”. Of course no movie would be complete without soda, pizza, and icecream! While these two age groups were on a trip, the Tsofs had camp to themselves for a game of Manhunt. They had a great time competing in teams as they hid around camp and then tried to find each other.

On Monday, nineteen of our Bog campers participated in The Jewish Arts Festival at Camp Pembroke, which is an annual event showcasing the talent of many local Jewish summer camps.  Each camp performs English and Hebrew songs as well as Israeli dancing. Each year, the festival has a theme, and this year it was aptly named, “Together Again.” Here are links to the videos of their performance:

Monday evening, our Younger Tsofs visited Cedarland where there’s an outdoor pool and basketball court, as well as mini-golf and ice cream. Oles had a Dutch Auction, where campers filled a pillowcase with items from their bunk and then received points for each item the host called out. We were fortunate to be able to bring back our R.A.D program, which is a self-defense class, for our Bogrot. This program has been at camp for over 10 years as the result of one of our former staff members’ personal experience. She had been traveling to Aruba and was able to fend off a potential attacker because she had taken the R.A.D class outside of camp. This staff member’s experience led her parents to bring the R.A.D. program to our oldest campers at camp, knowing that self-defense is such an important skill and the reason why their daughter was able to evade the situation. The girls did a great job and many responded that this was a great program and evening activity.

On Tuesday night, our Bogs had a Basketball Night and our Older Tsofs went to Boundless Adventures where they climbed and zipped through the trees. Wednesday night was our All Camp Talent Show. It was so great to see all the various talents of our campers, ranging from singing to dancing to instruments. Thursday morning, our Dor L’Dor campers landed safely in Boston after an incredible 4.5 week trip in Israel. While we very much missed having them at camp this summer, it was awesome to follow their journey through the pictures and updates they sent us.

Last night was Final Shabbat. Amidst speeches from BTC ’22 about what camp has meant to them, we recognized six of our exceptional counselors through the David Minn International Staff Leadership Award, and the Aaron and Blanche Gordon Award. The David Minn Award is given in memory of David Minn, a beloved staff member and friend who lost his life in 2018. David had a tremendously positive impact on our community in his 3 years on staff. He had a magnetic personality and was truly a connector of all people. The David Minn Award is presented each year to a returning international bunk counselor who emulates David’s positive leadership style. The Aaron and Blanche Gordon Award is a scholarship given to “homegrown” Tevya counselors in honor of Aaron, a former Tevya director, and his wife, for their long-time dedication and contribution to both Tevya and the greater Jewish community. Recipients are chosen based on their exceptional leadership and strong character during their summer as a first year counselor. This award is typically given to two second year staff members who are entering their first year of college. Since last summer’s first year counselors were from two different camp age groups, BTC ‘18 and BTC ‘19, we recognized four total counselors, two from each age group. Thank you to Temple Israel of Boston and the Gordon family for allowing us to recognize our staff in celebration of young Jewish leaders. This year’s David Minn Award recipients are Eliana Lardner and Ido Paz, and the Gordon Award recipients are Abby Spiller, Aidan Michelow, Mia Robinson, and Zach Young. All of our counselors have been exceptional this summer, but these six counselors consistently go above and beyond for their campers and our Tevya family.

Midat Hashavuah
The value of this past week, which was introduced last Shabbat, was Kindness. Campers and counselors were asked to keep their eyes open throughout the week and nominate people around camp who were demonstrating the value of Community. Counselors read the nomination sheets aloud with their bunks during Shabbat Prep and rewarded individuals or groups with a bracelet that states the week’s value in English and Hebrew. Kindness is visible everywhere at camp! From Bigs helping their Littles with laundry, to bunkmates bringing back Friday afternoon pizza snack for a friend that hurt their toe, to campers cheering their friends on stage during the Talent Show, kindness is that value that truly holds our community together.

Upcoming Events
With a few days left of camp, we have a lot of exciting things to pack in. Today after services, we will be holding our traditional Staff vs. Tel Chai Softball game, and Staff vs. Birya Football game. This afternoon, our Israeli delegation has planned an amazing Israeli Day experience for all of our campers. Campers and their counselors will do a rotation of activities around the loop of camp, just as if they were traveling throughout Israel. Tonight, the rest of our International Counselors will host an International Night evening activity. This evening activity was originally started as British Night by our very own David Minn, but this summer we have counselors from the UK, Spain, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Hungary, so we expanded it to International Night. Campers will travel across the globe experiencing fun games and activities from each culture.

Tomorrow will be our last full day of regular programming for the summer (a hard sentence to type!). Tomorrow night, we’ll be visited by Siagel Productions for our traditional end of summer Siagel Social! Steve Siagel is a Tevya alum and we love having his crew help us close out the summer with an awesome party. On Monday, we start the long process of packing and cleaning. Monday night will be our Night of Tevya Performing Arts, or Tarts. Tuesday afternoon will be our Department Award Ceremony, followed by our Second Session Banquet in the evening. KTY has been working hard on Banquet all session long, and we can’t wait to see all their hard work pay off as they transform the Dining Hall and blow us away with their surprise theme. After Banquet, we’ll wrap up the evening with our final slideshow of the summer and a special viewing of the Color War Video, followed by our final Shira session of the summer. There will no doubt be plenty of tears – a sign that an incredible summer has, unfortunately, come to an end.

Thank You!
Thank you to all of our families for reading these newsletters throughout the summer and for the positive feedback we’ve received. Lauren and I spend our time throughout the week out of the office and in camp as much as possible. So, when we do spend time in front of our computers to put these newsletters together, it’s rewarding to know that our families are reading and enjoying following along with all the action here at camp. Thank you!

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben and Lauren

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