Wednesday June 22
Busy first day here in Sugar Grove – kima (wake up) is 7:30 daily, followed by mifkad (when each eidah – division/age group – has a quick morning meeting) and tefilah. Breakfast is followed by shiur (our daily Torah learning, the basis for many camp programs), nikayon (clean up in the bunk house), aruchat eser (snack time), three morning peulot (activities), mincha, lunch, menucha (rest time), two more peulot, shekem (afternoon snack), another two peulot, shower time, camp-wide mifkad, dinner, maariv, night activity and then, only then, after a busy and fun day do we all get some shut-eye.
Each morning at breakfast we all receive the schedule. Today, each bunk had three orientation-related peulot throughout the day. Everyone had quick health-checks/in-take at our infirmary (the mirpa’ah, MARP for short) , they had unpacking time of course, and a peulah of sitting together (yes, even the 9 year olds) and discussing expectations for chanichim (campers) and for hadracha (the staff). Each bunk made their own rules and spoke about how they want their bunk to function and look and act etc. A very mature, empowering and bonding experience.
The first shiur, after yesterday’s introduction to the awesome religious revival by King Chizkiyahu, was a look at Menashe, Chizkiyahu’s son, and how he took the Jewish nation back to idol worship and endangered their security and possession of Eretz Yisrael. They learned the crucial role a king played in the nation’s spiritual state and saw how the nation’s existence on the Land of Israel was not (and is not) guaranteed.
We had chanichim on the high ropes today, down the road riding horses, working with the pottery wheel in ceramics, playing dodgeball and basketball, enjoying the activities at the lake, and…swimming in our new pool!!! It was a gorgeous sunny warm day, and the perfect way to kick off the month!
Kaytana has had a very exciting beginning, following in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu. This month, they will be learning about the Avot and Imahot of our nation in the most experiential way ever! Yesterday, they began, just like Avraham did, by smashing idols! Our idols were more like pinatas, but whatever 🙂 Today they practiced unbelievable hachnasat orchim by baking brownies and handing them out at various spots around machane. Avraham would have been so so proud! They have counselors who are so patient, sweet, and fun and who are looking to make their short time here the best two weeks of these young campers’ year!
Machal began with a hike last night and the traditional shelet aish, a very dramatic presentation of their Bnei Akiva shevet’s name -HaShachar – in fire! Today they had a great outing, tubing down the rivers of the Allegheny National Forest near the Buckaloons campgrounds, where they will sleep tonight.
Onwards and forwards to Day 2…