We had a wonderful weekend!  Our Shabbat preparations began on Friday afternoon when each edah (age group) gathered in small circles to reflect on the week that had just transpired.  We then moved into a larger circle for Israeli dancing.  At 6:30 we began to sing a niggun (wordless melody) taught by our Rosh Shira, Stevo, and danced down to the field where the benches were set up for Kabbalat Shabbat.  For the first time at our Ramah camp, we held a Kabbalat Shabbat service with guitars and drums.  A few times during the service, we all got up to dance together in the field.   By the time we got to Maariv, we had put away the instruments, and the storm clouds began rolling in.  We davened a relatively quick Maariv and then went into the chadar ohel (dining hall) for dinner.

While the rains never came, we were privy to an incredible light show in the middle of dinner.  About 20 minutes into our dinner, most of us went onto the back porch of the dining hall to watch the sky.  In the distance were fast moving black storm clouds with lightening.  But overhead was blue sky.  And between the blue and the black was an incredible array of orange and red lights mixed with white clouds.  We stood on the porch together watching the passing storm.  We also said the bracha that one recites over seeing a natural wonder.

After the meal (salmon, grilled vegetables, potatoes, salad and brownies) we sang together, including some of the new Ramah Outdoor Adventure favorites.  That night, one of the counselors reported that his 8th grade camper did not want to go to sleep because “this had been the best Friday night of his life!”

Shabbat day was again filled with song, learning, prayer, free time and sports.  Because Shabbat does not go out until 9:00pm in the Rockies, one has time to do pretty much anything one wants to do on Shabbat; campers read, played gaga, Frisbee, soccer, cards hung out etc..  Havdallah was lead by our Bogrim girls who reflected on how far they have come as individuals and as a group in the past six days.  Click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb2CCNG9cW8 to see some grainy footage of our Havdallah service.  As always we ended our Havdallah with a singining of the camp song, which you can see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLa2zLexWhc .

This morning we had one regular activity period followed by a special bunk activity period.  By midday we transitioned into masa (excursion) mode.  The Metayalim campers (6/7th grade) boarded a bus at 2:00pm to head to the Arkansas river for the night before they set off on their rafting/farming/hiking trip.  They return to camp on Tuesday evening to resupply before heading out Wednesday morning for two nights of backpacking.  The older campers split up into their four groups (rafting/biking, climbing, hiking and horseback riding).  These groups spent the afternoon preparing group gear (and food).  Tonight we had a Bar-B-Que together before each group returned to putting their finishing touches on the packing.  Monday morning we have a regular wake up (6:00am) followed by an early service and breakfast so that the groups can spend the majority of the day on the trail.

It has been a privilege to watch this group of campers build a community here at the Ramah Chava.  Only a week ago, our campers were in their homes wondering what it would be like at camp.  Six days ago almost no one knew anyone else.  And in this short amount of time, we have been able to build strong connections within our group.  Campers from Israel, Canada and 15 states have come together to create yet another strong Ramah Outdoor Adventure community.  As I wrote to our first session campers, we cannot wait to see them here again next year, but for those of us who are lucky enough to be here all summer, we feel  blessed that we have been able to be part of this community as well.  And as we look ahead to session III, that begins next week, we are excited to think about how this third community will build upon the successes of the first two.  Our task in the coming years is to integrate all of these communities as our camp grows and our sessions expand.  Because in each session our community is built on shared values, my hope is that when we begin to integrate campers from different sessions, we will have a common framework from which to continue the community building we are doing during our inaugural summer.