Shabbat Shalom for our first Shabbat of 2015!

The year-round team has been working towards this moment for 9 months: the moment we get to welcome back our chalutzim [campers] from their 11-month masa [excursion]– or what some refer to as the “off season.”

Our chalutzim are finally here, arriving from all over the United States, Israel, Canada, as well as the Philippines. After an unusually wet spring, the hills and fields are greener than they have ever been.  And since the constant rain stopped last weekend, this first week of camp has brought unseasonably warm temperatures with most days hitting over 85 degrees.

This week Chalutzim have been noticing some some of the updates that we have made to our ranch.   In addition to building a few more tents, including a new Tikvah Sensory tent, we moved our goat barn to the middle of the camp, so our chalutzim can see our four goats throughout the day and milk them in a more public space.  Less visible, but perhaps even more important is the completion of the first phase of our waste water treatment plant, which is now processing waste from Beit Kesher [our new staff lounge/retreat center] into clean water.  After the summer, we hope to complete the system and next year much more waste, will be sent back down stream.  (We are being mandated by the State to discontinue use of many of our septic systems).

Our food this summer has been a big hit so far and our tzevet mitbach [kitchen staff] have been hard at work cooking some delicious favorites like mac and cheese and quinoa sloppy joes–all without adding salt or sugar.  The first night Chalutzim enjoyed homemade whole wheat pizza!  We have also added oatmeal as an extra hot-option each morning for breakfast.  The tzevet from our farm have used this week to teach us about where our food comes from (like our very own garden) and what we can do with our food waste, such as composting or sharing with our goats and chickens.

And of course, this week our chalutzim have been enjoying the myriad of activities offered at camp from biking to farming to Frolf to climbing.  Our younger chalutzim have been rotating through these while our older chalutzim have chosen 3 activities on which to focus.  While the Wednesday’s later afternoon thunderstorm put a damper on the outside activities, we did manage to have an hour long impromptu Zumba-thon and sing along for those who sought shelter in our dining hall during the storm.

Next week, as early as Sunday, we’ll be saying a brief goodbye to all of our chalutzim as they embark on masaot (excursions). The water in the river has dropped low enough that we can send our Sollelim chalutzim out, and are still waiting on word on whether we can send our younger chalutzim rafting as well.   Between the success of this week and the prospect of next week, there is excitement in the air as we head into this Shabbat. We know that the singing, dancing, and resting that will take place over the next day is much needed and one of the best parts of the week. All in all, it’s been a beautiful first week and we’re looking forward to what looks to be a fantastic summer.

We will post a few pictures on Facebook of our pre-shabbat festivities before Shabbat, and then hope to add many more on Sunday evening.
Shabbat Shalom