One of my favorite things to do is to document my experiences through my journal. I welcome you to experience my summer of a lifetime as a Solelim participant through the lens of my journal entries from the summer. Enjoy!
Sunday, June 13th: Driving up Morrison Road, I was excited for what this summer as a Solel (a counselor-in-training) would bring. Coming into the gates of camp with the sunroof open, windows down, big smiles on our faces, and staff members screaming their lungs out with excitement, I knew this summer would be the best summer yet, especially after 2 years apart from my camp community and my best friends!
Tuesday, June 15th: Today I got to be in charge of Candy Canteen, a tradition I had always looked forward to as a camper coming into the Solelim year. It was so fun to be able to stand in the iconic Canteen to hand candy to campers who wrote letters home. It was a great first letter day!!
Friday June 18th: Today was the first Shabbat!! Before prep for dinner, the Solelim worked together to set the tables in the dining hall for this special night while jamming to our favorite camp songs. My favorite part of Shabbat was the outdoor song session because we had the opportunity to sing our hearts out to our favorite song session songs (like Hoshia) while simultaneously watching the gorgeous sunset in Utica.
Sunday, June 20th: Today I created the Letter Day Skit with my best friend, Sarah Hochhauser. It was an AMAZING day all-around because it was also announced that ALL OF CAMP IS COVID-FREE!! YAY!!! It was such a special time as siblings got to reunite after a week apart, and the camp community finally became unified.
Tuesday, June 22nd: Today Sarah, Tillie, and I woke up super early to surprise our cabin of girls (shoutout cabin 4!!) to tell them that we were their solels for this summer. We came into their cabin a few minutes after they woke up and played their favorite song “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. It was so special to see their reactions, and the best part was having Messy Night with them that evening. I loved going down the slip-n-slide with my campers, pouring shaving cream on their heads, and having a competition to see who would be the messiest by the end of the night!!
Wednesday, June 23rd: Today focused on the adventure department. I worked with the adventure staff to become Belay-Certified, and then I helped belay Maskilimers up the 50-foot Alpine tower. I had to make sure they saw the purple tree when they got to the top, of course! I also had the opportunity to be in the Campout evening program skits with the Israeli Adventure Staff!!
Sunday, June 27th: Tonight was Bunk Night for my Garin Girl’s cabin: a time for the campers to bond with one another and have fun. We first raided the costume closet, ran around camp dancing to our favorite Kesha songs, and crashed all of the evening programs. Then, we ate WAY too much candy and got to watch Camp Rock in the Ed Center.
Tuesday, June 29th: Day 1 of Maccabiah started today. It was so cool to be on the staff side of Maccabiah this year and help lead the Blue Team! I helped cheer on Maskilim during Flickerhoops and guided the cake decorators in Ace of Cakes for Hagigah. GO KING TRITON AND THE BLUE TEAM!!
Wednesday June 30th: Today was Day 2 of Maccabiah!! During the Derby, I was stationed at the end where the Gariner pies the Captain in the face, and I helped gather the kids as we all raced down to the Lower Athletic Field.
Thursday, July 1st: Every year for camp, I make sure to put a hammock on my packing list. I love coming back from lunch for Rest Hour and reading a book while swaying a hammock under the shaded trees. Today, my friends and I decided to bunk the hammocks. It was really cool because we could all relax outside together. The Stalent show was also tonight, and I was so excited to sing “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen with my friend Sarah.
Friday, July 2nd: Today started off with Pita Friday: the best part of being in the adventure department and one of my favorite camp traditions. Adventure specialty campers made their pita bread and spread Nutella on it before enjoying the delicious treat. Today was also the last Shabbat, which meant our time at camp was coming to an end. Nevertheless, we had an amazing Shabbat walk from China to the Valley along with great services, great food, great song session, and of course great Israeli dancing hosted by our wonderful Mishlachat.
Saturday, July 3rd: How optional is optional breakfast you may wonder? Well it is so optional that you don’t even have to go! Crazy, right?! Today started off with the last optional breakfast of the session, followed with a beautiful Saturday morning service, and Shabboptionals (shabbat optional activities) later in the day. During Shabboptionals, I led Cloud Watching (the best Shabboptional activity) along with continuing to belay campers up the tower through my adventure leadership. To top off the day, we ended with Rib Night: a night where everyone dressed in their best western attire, ate way too many ribs, and danced the night away to Cotton Eye Joe.
Sunday, July 4th: Today was 4th of July!! As a Solel, we worked as a unit to plan, set-up, and run America Fest: a 4th of July carnival at Jacobs. This year, we had face painting, Zumba, frisbee, cotton candy, popcorn, trivia, hay rides around camp, dancing, and so much more! It was such a fun festival to be a part of and to help program. It helped to teach the Solelim how much effort goes into writing, developing, and setting up programs. To continue the night, Garin had their Solelim-led evening program which was a High school themed program. All of the Garin Solelim worked together to carefully craft this evening program throughout the session, with each person being in charge of a specific activity or section of the program. For the high School program, the Gariners went to Field Day, Drivers Ed, and Prom before being able to graduate and walk across the stage with their diplomas. It sure was one night to remember for the Gariners!!
Monday, July 5th: After having my Bat Mitzvah at Jacobs Camp in 2017, I knew I wanted to have my Confirmation at Jacobs, too. Today, I had the opportunity to help lead a service and share a speech about what Judaism means to me and how my camp community has helped me develop and strengthen my Jewish identity. It was such a sweet feeling to be able to take such an important step in my religious journey at the place I call home.
Tuesday July 6th: Today is the last full day of camp, but also a day full of so many amazing camp traditions. The day started off with the AMAZING sports and arts showcases, and the day ended with our iconic fried chicken dinner, the end of Session 1 slideshow, Camp Torah, fireworks at the chapel, and friendship circle. It was really special to be a part of the Garin Friendship Circle and to end the session alongside my campers who were truly the reason that this summer was the BEST SUMMER YET!! After the friendship circle, Sarah, Tillie, and I went back to cabin prayers with our Garin girls where we all shared our favorite memory of the session and surprised the girls with matching friendship bracelets.
Wednesday July 7th: As I leave the gates of camp, reflecting on what an amazing summer I had as a Solelim, I want to give advice to future Solelim. Take advantage of the opportunities given at camp. Be involved. Play that game of kickball with the campers. Swim with your campers at the pool. Yell your team’s cheers on stage during Maccabiah. Create a dance to perform at the Stalent Show. Don’t be “too cool” to do fun activities or silly skits. Live in the moment with your campers and the camp community because the time will fly by without you realizing it!
About the Author
Savannah is from Clemson, SC, and attended camp for 10 summers. She continued this summer as a Solel where she had an amazing experience with Garin girls, with the adventure department, and connecting with staff members and other Solel. This photo shows Savannah at the pool with some of the Olim campers.
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