Blog  Smiles, Song Session, and Saying Goodbye: The Final Week of Session 1 at #HSJ50

Smiles, Song Session, and Saying Goodbye: The Final Week of Session 1 at #HSJ50

Shalom y’all!

Our first session of #HSJ50 is already over and it flew by! With only days until we welcome our second session campers home, we wanted to take a moment to pause and express our gratitude for the amazing month we have had with our first session campers. Check out our session in review video to see some of the Jacobs magic from these past few weeks! Watching this incredible group of young people grow together as a community and as individuals was a true joy, and we can’t wait to welcome them all home again next summer! While we are sad to see these amazing campers leave, we are beyond grateful for the joy, compassion, and enthusiasm they brought to our Kehila Kedosha, and want to reflect upon our incredible final week!

Our final Shabbat was the best one yet! Though the clouds might have been grey here in Utica, our campers were our very own rays of sunshine during friendship circle services in the Ed center. After a delicious dinner together, we had an electric final Shabbat song session! Our final day of Shabboptionals was delightful, with campers enjoying every activity from biking to cloud watching. It was the perfect shabbat to mark the final days of our session. 

Our campers crammed as much fun into the last few days as possible! Garin had a lot of fun activities this week, from enjoying the lake in boating, to getting sweaty in soccer, to expressing their gratitude for the camp staff in the chugim “Thanks a Lot”! Our oldest Gariners in 5th grade took a day trip visiting a nursing home as well as bouncing around at Pump It Up! At night, these young campers got silly with a super hero program, a fort building challenge, and capped off the session with an amazing movie themed extravaganza party! You can always count on Garin for oodles of energy and laughs, and we already miss these campers so much!

Maskilim had tons of fun this week as well! During the day these campers enjoyed wrapping up their speciality camp projects as well as activities such as weightlifting, discs, and save the world! In the evenings, they had their history themed messy night, combining some learning with a whole lot of fun! They also had their talent show, and a nighttime lake swim! They ended the session with a vegas themed extravaganza! Maskilim infuses energy and love into our camp community, and we are beyond thankful for the passion they shared with us for these past 3 weeks!

In Talmidim, campers kept busy wrapping up their specialty camp majors as well as minors like robotics, ceramics, and archery. They also had their bunk nights, bonding as cabins and celebrating the friendships they made, as well as an Olympics program and an oscars themed extravaganza! These campers were true leaders of our camp community throughout the session and are dearly missed!

Finally, our Chalutzim campers had a busy week as well. They had plenty of programs, like IDF day, a makeover challenge, biking, boating, and educational programming on subjects ranging from race and privilege to hunger and poverty. They continued to bond as a unit and begin what is sure to continue to be an incredible summer full of memories and joy! While these campers will stay at camp for the remainder of the summer, we know they too will miss the incredible session one kids!

This week, our Solelim had the opportunity to visit an animal shelter for a social action trip, and worked with poet and University of Alabama student Daniel Blokh on writing exercises. They also got to learn about Jewish life in college from Rabbi Adam Grossman! As counselors in training these young adults are constantly learning and growing, and we are so thankful for the passion and curiosity they bring to camp!

Our sports department kept active in these final few days of camp! Our sports specialty campers had their showcase, competing in front of the whole camp in a game of basketball! It was so much fun to get to watch the campers show off their skills and see their friends cheering them on! Campers also participated in fun chugim like kickball, tennis, and volleyball! Adventure and aquatics are another way our campers stay active. Climbing the tower was always a favorite during shabboptionals, as was the blob and wet willy. Watching our campers take risks and conquer fears during these activities was one of the most gratifying parts of camp!

The art department also had their showcase, allowing the entire camp community to see the incredible works of art our campers have been creating all summer. Their ingenuity is unparallelled, and seeing them take pride in their work, as well as support their friends, was a treat! Some of our Talmidim campers were able to “sell” their crafts this week as well, giving our younger campers a chance to connect with these role models and our older campers an opportunity to take true pride in their projects! The ability to watch these kids utilize their imaginations regularly is one of the many gifts of camp, and our session one campers never failed to bring their best to the table! 

Jewish life was as central as ever this week, with campers constantly engaging and exploring their faith. Garin Kehila continued its exploration of Shomrei Adamah, as did specialty camp curriculum. Our campers also participated in mitzvah day, thanking our operations staff for all of the wonderful and crucial work they do here at HSJ! Our campers’ connection to Judaism, and the passion for Tikun Olam it instills within them is endlessly impressive, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of these amazing Jewish leaders!

Of course, the session ended with some favorite camp traditions. MOME day was celebrated on Tuesday, with campers participating in wacky activities such as extreme walking, corn or no corn, bubble soccer, and chicken yoga! We always try to ensure that our last full day of activities is as engaging and memorable as possible with activities like these, and our campers always bring their enthusiasm and joy to make these final hours of camp incredible! We also had our annual session slideshow, featuring all of our campers and showing the amazing fun we have had these past weeks, and this session’s camp torah, a comical presentation of the story of the summer of the entire camp! Finally, we had friendship circles by unit and headed back to the cabins for the final time this summer. 

The final days of camp are always bittersweet. We know our campers have missed you and their homes so much, and yet we also know that the second they leave the countdown to summer 2020 begins. We just wanted to pause and take a moment to thank all of you for everything you have done to make this session possible. Thank you for sharing your incredible children with us. Thank you for recognizing the impact of Jewish summer camps, and supporting them. Thank you for making Jacobs Magic happen. We could not be more proud of the session we had with these campers, and the community they made with us. Thank you for making it possible.

Shabbat Shalom,


Camp Director