Please read to the end for housekeeping matters.

This morning was our warmest morning thus far this summer.  While most of us woke up after sunrise and put on our fleeces and long pants, we did so out of habit and not necessity, as the temperature hovered in the 60s until the sun rose above the hilltop.  The warm morning was a perfect way to transition into our week of masaot (excursions).  At 7:30, our first group of Bogrim chalutzim (9/10th grade) boarded their bus to go kayaking on the Arkansas River and hiking in Great Sand Dunes National Park.   An hour later, another group headed out for a five day climbing trip on a magnificent rock face, about one hour from camp.  This afternoon, our Metayalim chalutzim (5/6th grade) leave for an overnight where they will be mining for quartz in a local quartz seam and feeding buffalo at our neighbor’s ranch.  Tomorrow morning, our Sollelim chalutzim (7/8th grade) head out for four days of hiking and rafting or biking.

Lest you think that camp will be quiet this week, last night 50 campers and staff from Ramah in the Poconos arrived at camp.  They will be participating in four days of activities here on the Ramah in the Rockies ranch.

All in all, this is certain to be an amazing week at Ramah Outdoor Adventure.

The past few days at camp have been challenging, inspirational and memorable.  Since the second day of camp, our horses have been working about eight hours a day taking chalutzim on trail rides around the ranch.  Our bikers have explored many of the trails in camp, including some with considerable inclines.  Our advanced climbers have spent hours scaling cliffs 100s of feet high, including one who did a multi-pitch climb yesterday; while our beginner climbers have learned the basics of belay technique and the basics of climbing on real rock faces.  One of the most popular additions to our program this summer is the new 18 “hole” FROLF (frisbee golf) course designed by a former Ramah in New England Ultimate star, Nadav.  Nadav spent all of staff week constructing a course that takes 2-3 days to complete and circles much of the back of our property.  In addition to allowing for some terrific FROLF, our course enables our chalutzim to explore areas of the ranch that they might not otherwise see.

While our physical activities have been amazing, we had an incredibly inspirational Shabbat as well.  On Friday evening, we gathered in our new amphitheatre, called the Pardes Tefillah (Prayer Grove), for dancing and davening.  As usual, we sang Kabbalat Shabbat with a guitar and drums before lighting the Shabbat candles.  Our dinner, consisting of fish, beans and rice, was followed by some of the most incredible singing and dancing that any of us have ever heard or seen at Ramah.  Shabbat proceeded as planned, with time for collective prayer and learning, as well as lots of free time, when chalutzim napped, played kickball and also hung around to chat with each other.  At 9:15 pm we all gathered in front of the  Chadar Ohel (dining hall) for our first havdallah of the season.  For the first 10 minutes, chalutzim took turns giving “shout outs” to each other as a way to publicly thank others in the group who had either helped them out in the initial days of camp, or with whom they had shared a meaningful moment.  It was incredible to see how, after only five days together as a community, we had already come so close to each other and were able to share our inner feelings.

With over a week left in our camp program, I can only imagine how this second week will change our chalutzim and bring them even closer together.  While I savor each day here at the Chava (ranch), I cannot wait for next Shabbat when we will again gather in our pardes tefillah, having had six additional days of intense outdoor experiences and meaningful interpersonal bonding.

Now for a few housekeeping matters:

#1 Please note that due to the higher than usual water level in the Arkansas River our rafting company will not take any clients under the age of 12.  Therefore, we have had to cancel our metayalim (entering 5/6) rafting trip indefinitely for this session.  We were informed of this yesterday, and are still searching for an alternate activity for this Thursday.

#2 For those who are still having issues seeing our pictures, please know that they are kept on a new website.  Due to numerous complaints last year, we ARE NOT using the UltraCamp site for pictures.  Please contact us directly for a link to the photos.