Opening Day! A Day of Celebration and Creating Strong Community

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by Debby Shriber, Director, Crane Lake Camp

L'dor V'dor: Passing the Torah from the oldest campers to youngest

There was true excitement in the air on Wednesday morning, as a sea of blue shirted counselors filed into the dining hall for breakfast. The weather was perfect and there were cheers of excitement and even Greg Kellner’s mom called and wished everyone a great day over the PA system. At 9am, the gates opened and the first cars rolled in to camp and the festivities began. After a bit of waiting for the health screening (and thanks to all of our parents for being patient!), campers were off to their cabins to meet their bunkmates and greet their counselors. There were so many smiles and even those who were a bit nervous for their first time at camp were comforted by happy and excited staff.

Our Cornerstone Fellows (a group of third year staff part of a professional development program through the Foundation for Jewish Camp) wanted to make Opening Day something to really remember… Instead of a lot of meetings and swim tests, they dreamed up a special art project, the Pep Rally, Opening Ceremony and celebratory dinner.

The real fun began after lunch, with our all camp Pep Rally, where our specialists and fellows were all introduced to camp with cheers and shouts of pure ruach!

The summer was now really under way. Following the Pep Rally, campers were brought in unit by unit to the Outdoor Sanctuary where something truly magical occurred. With the entire camp at the sanctuary we took our Torah’s from where they are stored in the winter and the faculty marched in with them celebrating and dancing with the entire camp. The songleaders played their hearts out and then the Torah was passed for each camper to hold from the oldest campers on camp to the youngest. Through this, we committed to living the values that Torah teaches in everything we do at camp, whether on the soccer field or in the dining hall, we were going to be the best people we can be. The entire sanctuary was filled with singing, dancing and clapping. We closed with Shehecheyanu and then our favorite song… Summertime Forever!

I wanted to share with you how wonderful this day was because it was designed and implemented by a committed group of counselors who wanted to make the first hours of camp unique, exciting and special. I was so proud when I met with our Cornerstone Fellows a little over a month ago and they said that their goal was to create an opening day where at the end of the day everyone felt the Kehillah… the community. They wanted everyone to feel and understand they were part of an entire camp community, a cabin community and their own unit as well. Kol Hakavod to our Cornerstone Fellows for making a difference and giving a gift to camp that will last forever.

Thank you also to our parents for making it an incredible day and a smooth start to what will be an amazing summer!

Cornerstone Presents the Hineini "I Am Here" Chamsa Project to All of Camp