Our first full day of camp has drawn to a close. Chalutzim (pioneers/campers) were rock climbing, painting, playing Frisbee and so much more. While our oldest chalutzim chose their activities according to their interests, our younger ones went around as an ohel (tent) for most of the day. From the smiles on their faces, it seems that most of the chalutzim are making an easy transition into our community. Our meals today were also scrumptious, consisting of yogurt and homemade granola for breakfast, an extensive salad bar (with homegrown lettuce) and enchilada casserole for lunch, and salad and tuna casserole for dinner. Of course, while we try to serve healthy meals, the culinary highlight of the day was the homemade fudge soynut butter brownies!
Throughout this month, in these shorter blog posts, I hope to feature different programmatic aspects of our camp program. Tonight’s thoughts are on the newest addition to our camp program: Step Aerobics. In the fall, one of our returning mishlachat (Israeli embassador) members, Or G, asked whether she could introduce aerobics into the camp program this summer. Not wanting to every say no to a good idea, I told her that she was welcome to try it. Or, who is a certified aerobics instructor in Israel, gave a list of items she would need for the program, including steps, small carpets (to pad the floor) and a wall of mirrors.
Being an environmental camp can mean so many things. Certainly it refers to how we live in concert with nature, according to the cycles of the sun. It also means eating a healthy diet with an awareness of what we are putting into our bodies. But it also means being mindful in the procurement of materials and often buying used items that would otherwise be thrown away. Our Step Aerobics program is comprised of 100% recycled materials: The steps came from a gym in in Denver that was no longer offering aerobics, the mats came from a company called www.recycledfloormats.com, and the mirrors were bought at a foreclosure auction of a nightclub.
For a camp program to be successful, it not only needs an excellent teacher and appropriate materials, but also chalutzim who want to participate. In the case of step aerobics, its popularity has surpassed our expectations and has become one of the most subscribed offerings at camp for the older chalutzim. Last session, about 12 chalutzim, males and females, participated in the program. This session it is closer to 20 chalutzim, and a cadre of staff. Each comes because of the intense workout, the excellent Israeli music, and the fun nature of the class.
At the moment, step is only being offered to our Bogrim chalutzim (9/10th graders). The younger chalutzim have an option for gymnastics, and we thought that this would be a suitable substitute. However, given the popularity of the step program, it is possible that we will revisit this decision for session IIB when all the chugim (classes) will be changing in any case.
The initial success of our step program suggests that while chalutzim choose to come to Ramah in Colorado for the outdoor sports, there is also a desire for regular athletic programs that provide additional physical challenges. Step aerobics requires a level of stamina similar to mountain biking, but an amount of grace and coordination of dancing. Seeing as it is only offered during the last perek (period), is a perfect way to end the day at Ramah Outdoor Adventure, and something that will hopefully remain part of our program for years to come.