Wow! This has been an exciting week! We can’t believe it’s already the second Shabbat of the session. Last Shabbat was an incredible, beautiful, and ruach-filled experience! Throughout this week, all our chalutzim [campers/pioneers] headed out for their masa’ot [excursions], and now they are back, getting ready to celebrate this Shabbat with us. While we typically wear white on Shabbat, this week in honor of Independence Day, we will be wearing red, white, and blue!
Independence Day is always an exciting day, but even more thrilling when it’s full of camp magic! Our Ilanot and Metayalim (3-6th grade) chalutzim started our day out with a patriotic music wake up . They came out, danced, brushed their teeth, and decked themselves out in red, white, and blue. It was so fun to watch our chalutzim sing, march, and dance along to hits ranging from Party in the USA to Proud to be an American.
Where we might typically have a morning activity block, we did another special 4th of July activity this morning. US Army Reserve Captain Josh Wolf (and brother of our Business Director) arranged a flag to be given to us that was flown over his base in Afghanistan a few years ago. We held a flag raising ceremony on our migrash [field] with the Ilanot and Metaylim chalutzim. Our horse staff acted as a Color Guard, and Douglas Wolf and his son, David, raised the flag given to us by Josh. Some line dancing and more fun American music capped off the morning activities. We followed this with a delicious breakfast of red, white, and blue themed food—waffles, strawberries, blueberries, ice cream, and whipped cream!
As our chalutzim are now getting ready for Shabbat and are back from their various excursions, I want to share a brief few highlights of the various trips. The trips ranged from 2-5 days, depending on the age of the chalutzim, and follow our core value of “challenge by choice”, letting the chalutzim pick the degree to which they want to push themselves.
Ilanot, our 3rd and 4th grade group, had a special horse masa. Gabi “G-baby” Wasserman, the head of Ilanot themed the masa around a medieval mission to save a princess from a dragon, both played by members of our tzevet [staff]. They also took a day trip to our neighbors on the buffalo ranch and fed the buffalo and cattle.
Metayalim, the 5th and 6th grade edah, went rafting along the Arkansas River in Brown’s Canyon. They are also the first of our chalutzim this year to have been to the top of a “14’er” (mountain higher than 14,000 feet), Pikes Peak, and were quite excited to see some Bighorn Sheep. The Metayalim were especially excited to be seeing and learning about fossils at the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. Today they visited a local farmers market where they had a morning long scavenger hunt.
Sollelim, the 7th and 8th grade edah, chose between climbing, backpacking, rafting-biking, and service/trail crew options. A new option we added this year was archery masa, taking our chalutzim through a 3D target archery range/course. This masa, led by Shira, our head archery instructor, went through Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
Bogrim, our 9th and 10th grade edah, tried some new routes at Rocky Mountain National Park. The original route that we had planned had to be altered on Sunday when the group arrived and found the trail closed becaues of snow. The ofanaimmasa [biking trip] rode back triumphantly in the pouring rain, singing and cheering.
JOLI (Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute), the 11th and 12th grade program, went to Indian Peaks. The snowpack is extremely high this year (300% of average), and at various times during the week they trekked their way through snow, altering their route as needed to avoid the deeper parts and the closed trails. As a result of the snow, they themed the trip “Masa Beyond The Wall” (A Game of Thrones reference).
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 fish tacos, and a festive July 4th Shabbat.
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 4th of July 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