I can’t believe it’s our final Shabbat of our 50th summer! This session has truly been one for the books, and I could not be more pleased to have spent this landmark summer with such a wonderful group of campers. From song sessions to specialty camps, from messy night to Maccabiah, these past three weeks have been jam packed with tons of fun. Watch our week in review video to get a taste! Yet, as our summer comes to a close, we want to take a moment to look back on and appreciate the amazing times we have shared as a camp community!
We were visited by some very special (and very little) guests this week, our Kochavimers! This summer was the 15th anniversary of our overnight program for rising 1st graders, and we could not have had a better time with these adorable kids. It is such a gift to be able to start our campers’ Jacobs journeys at such a young age, and it is all due to your commitment to welcoming new kids into this community. Thank you!
Garin started this week off with a bang, enjoying bunk nights, campouts, and fortifying the bonds they have built all session! They also had a ton of fun at fort building, and enjoyed a special program planned by our eldest campers in Chalutzim. It is incredible to see campers of all ages bonding and forming a family here at camp, and our Garin and Chalutzim buddies are a wonderful example of that! Our Gariners infused our camp community with enthusiasm and joy the entire session, and we can’t wait to see them next year! Until then, we want to thank them for making this session all it could be!
Our Maskilim campers also had an eventful week. They enjoyed messy night, and had a ball getting super dirty and just being kids! They also had their day trip this week. They spent the morning in downtown Utica, collecting litter and helping keep our camp’s lovely hometown clean! Afterward, they went bowling and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Ichiban Chinese Buffet! Our Maskilim campers have been a joy to have this session, bringing both maturity and fun to every activity they engage in. We are so thankful for their contributions to our camp community, and will miss them so much!
Talmidim headed off on their trip to Atlanta, which focused on social justice programming — as well as a quick detour to Six Flags! They spent a day with Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta with Repair the World learning about discrimination and injustice in our incarceration system. These campers demonstrated maturity beyond their years and engaged with the program laudably. In addition, these campers got to enjoy an Atlanta Braves game and stop in Montgomery to tour the Legacy museum, an impactful museum that focuses on the history of slavery to mass incarceration. We couldn’t be more proud of the work they are doing and jealous of the fun they are having!
Chalutzim had a packed week! They facilitated the Garin program, learning about programming and getting their first taste of what it’s like to be staff here at HSJ! They also had their own day trip to a water park, and had a lot of fun at the annual take a Chalutz to work day, where they each shadowed a staff member here at camp! As these campers soak up their final few days of camp, we want to acknowledge the incredible journey they are about to complete. Whether this is summer 1 or summer 10, our Chalutzimers have impacted our camp community incredibly, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the work they have done to make HSJ the best it can be. We are sad to see them leaving the gates as campers for the last time, but can’t wait to welcome them home again as staff!
Our Solelim have had a wild week! After having a lovely parent Shabbat last weekend, these teens have been super busy! They have spent their limud, or education hour, focusing on the intersections of identity and social justice, been planning and running their own evening programs for our campers, and took a trip to the Mississippi animal shelter! These young people are constantly pushing themselves to learn, and we know their hard work will pay off next year on staff!
Our sports department was bustling this week, with activities ranging from tennis to gymnastics to basketball! While our younger campers get moving during their chugim, our older campers in sports specialty camp get to take a deeper dive into their activities, and have been diligently preparing for our end of session sports showcase! We love seeing our talented campers show off their athleticism, and having tons of fun doing it!
Our adventure department was also active this week! Both the Garin boys and girls had their campouts this week, getting to pitch tents, enjoy s’mores, and connect with the great outdoors! Our Maskilim campers are building their own rafts and honing other outdoor survival skills. Our Talmidimers are learning how to properly set up our largest climbing facility, the tower, so that they too can one day pass on the wonder of adventure to amazing HSJ campers!
Finally, our arts department continues to offer a variety of activities our campers love! From making their own Mardi Grad floats, to extreme wax art, to new camp staple cooking in our brand new test kitchen, our campers are always staying creative! Our arts specialty campers are also preparing for their showcase, as well as putting the finishing touches on the wall panel they are adding to the art room! We love seeing the works of art our campers make!
Of course, Jewish Life and education remain a focus everyday. In addition to regular services, our campers engage daily in Jewish education, either in Kehila, specialty camp, or Limud. They also have all had an opportunity to lead services as a cabin, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work that goes into T’fila. We also were treated to a special visit from the Institute of Jewish Rock this week, which allowed our campers to connect to classic prayers over their favorite contemporary music. We are so thankful to Abbie Strauss for sharing this incredible program with our campers! Of course, our campers continue to bring their own interpretations of our shared faith to every aspect of camp life, and we are endlessly grateful for the passion and insight they bring to our community.
Somehow we have found ourselves at the end of this session. I cannot believe the entire summer has flown by so quickly, and that in a few short days we will be saying goodbye to these amazing campers and our 50th anniversary summer! I can honestly say summer 50 has been the best one yet, and there are so many people to credit for that. Our diligent staff play a major role in the success of our camp. Our incredible campers, who share their enthusiasm, creativity, and passion for this place, inspire us daily, and make this job not only possible but worth doing. Of course, there is also you, the families, who send your kids to camp, who support southern Jewish camping, and who make all of this possible to begin with. I cannot possibly express to you my gratitude for your commitment to our faith, these kids, and the future of Judaism in the south. Thank you for a wonderful summer. I look forward to many more to come!