It seems like just yesterday that we were gathering for the first time during shavua hachanah [staff week] with our tzevet [staff] and spoke about how we are forming the basis of our Kehillah Kedosha [holy community]. And in a few hours, we will gather as a Kehillah Kedosha for the final time with our first session chalutzim [campers]. This session has truly flown by! What a week it has been!
The week started off with Yom Sport, our annual color war competition. In case you missed our video from it, check out the link, and read Beth Hammerman’s article about it here:
There are some things you just can’t live without at camp. Call it what you want, for some it’s Color War and for others it’s Maccabia Games. But for Ramah Outdoor Adventure, it’s Yom Sport. Camp wouldn’t be camp without this day of friendly competition! When it falls is usually a surprise. Campers anxiously await the “break” and when that happens, camp instantly goes into a frenzy. There is so much excitement in the air that you wonder if the campers will ever get to sleep Erev Yom Sport.
Yom Sport is an intense day of activities that requires teamwork, cooperation, and consideration for others. Good sportsmanship and mutual respect are expected, and every team member needs to participate in some way. Most important is that every camper enjoys the day. (Continue Reading)
One of my favorite aspects of Yom Sport is the JOLI (Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute- 11th and 12th Graders) participation as captains and judges. It was inspiring to see the camp unite around the JOLI captains as they engaged in the final challenge–the rope burn. During this competition, the JOLI captains must put their outdoor skills to use and build a fire high enough to burn a rope strung
between two chairs, and they must do it all before the other teams can. Yom Sport is always an exciting time at camp, and the day is charged with this ruach [spirit] and energy that is unparalleled.
This week we welcomed to the chava [ranch] two new sets of residents: our goats, Buttercup and Chetzi, and our bees. The goats join the pigs, sheep, and chickens in our barn; we know the chalutzim will love these two! This summer we are adding a beekeeping chug [elective], led by veteran staff member Rinat Levinson. She is beyond excited to be teaching the chalutzim about bees and beekeeping.
Currently, our chalutzim are getting ready for Shabbat after an amazing, chaotic, energetic, and fun day of returning from their masa’ot [excursions]. Upon their return, they spend a few hours in “de-issue,” a process of unpacking, cleaning, and returning all gear checked out for their masa’ot. Aside from the unpacking and cleaning process, they trade tales among friends and bunkmates of their experiences roughing it. Returning from masa is always a frenzied experience here but an incredible one to both be a part of and observe.
Weather-wise, this week has been a wild one in most of Colorado. All our groups who were sleeping in the backcountry encountered rain and thunder storms. Most were able to stay dry or not get more than the usual back-country damp, though a few had to take shelter in some creative places, including our Amitzim (campers with special needs) edah [age group], who spent a night sleeping in a hay loft because their campsite was so wet!
Metaylim, the 5th and 6th grade edah, went on a three-day backpacking trip at the three eastern gateways of the Lost Creek Wilderness. For the first time, we mixed the bunks and genders on their masa. Metaylim also spent Monday at the local YMCA camp where they were supposed to spend the day on high rope elements, but instead, because of storms in the area, spent most of the day playing ground games.
Sollelim, the 7th and 8th grade edah, chose between climbing, backpacking, rafting-biking, and service/trail crew options. This year we have been adding several new masa options for Sollelim including an archery masa and an omanut masa [art-themed excursion].
Bogrim, our 9th and 10th grade edah, returned to Rocky Mountain National Park, north of Boulder and also hiked to Sangre De Christo Wilderness, south of Colorado Springs. The climbing masa went to the local twin peak mountain, Sheeprock, and spent their days dodging storms and climbing between the showers. Another group went on a Horsepacking masa, crossing through the Holy Cross Wilderness, with many legs of the journey through snow.
JOLI (Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute), the 11th and 12th grade program, went on an adventure challenge masa, doing segments 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the Colorado Trail. They hiked, climbed, and biked all around the Lost Creek Wilderness area. They also biked up and over the continental divide at Kenosha Pass, at over 10,000 feet. The JOLeaders who did not go on masa with JOLI were CIT’s with Metaylim and Sollelimmasa’ot, learning the ropes of being staff and leaders for camp.
Our Amitzim campers road horses to our neighbor’s buffalo ranch and set up camp along their pond. As a wild storm moved in, they sought shelter in their barn, and ended up spending the night there. Yesterday they moved to Wellington Lake where they swam and played on the shores before riding back into camp today on horseback.
Now that our chalutzim are all back, we are excited to spend Shabbat and this next week at camp together. We look forward to our famous Shabbat Challah, tilapia,and a reuniting final Shabbat of Session 1B.
As a reminder, we post pictures and updates on Facebook most days that chalutzim are at the chava [ranch]. If you are not a fan of our Facebook page, please become one. Here is the link to our online photos that we update every two or three days, and here is a link to a video we posted on Facebook of Yom Sport and the masa’ot returning.
As always please be in touch with any questions or comments. You can always email me or our yoatzim [camper care team] at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Eliav Bock