Can You Feel It?
It’s the deep breath after a busy week as you walk toward the chapel for Shabbat. The butterflies in your stomach before your relay in Aquadome. It’s hearing your name called as a Color War Captain. It’s the comfort you feel with your best friend’s arms slung tightly around you. It’s losing your voice from cheering so loudly. It’s another unforgettable week at CTN!
Walking around camp this week and seeing the new friendships that have developed, and the closeness of friends reunited, I’m constantly reminded of why I love this place. I started Shabbat last Friday night the same way I will this week. After I GRFS (get ready for Shabbat) I start walking from my house, located to the left of our beach, and make my way to the chapel. Each week I look forward to taking just a moment to pause as I leave to look out across the cove and see all of camp, a sea of blue and white, tucked comfortably away in one of the most perfect spots at camp. Hearing the music and seeing camp together reminds me of the importance and beauty of Shabbat. This past week was made even more special by the incredible planning and service leading by four of our younger campers. They handed out siddurim, directed bunks where to sit, and led us in song and prayer. It was touching and inspiring to see some of our youngest campers taking on such an extraordinary responsibility with the grace and charisma that I saw last week. You could feel the ruach in the air.
Saturday was relaxing and Oneg programming kept us cool (in the pool) and engaged in different activities around camp with bunks. Everyone was able to find some time to plan for that evenings activity, a classic – Dancing with the Staff! By grade, a few campers and counselors, worked tirelessly to choreograph and perform their dances in front of camp. It was the perfect mix of camper and staff participation and the intermission dance parties got everyone out of their seats!
Sunday’s regular daily programming was shorter for some of our Bogrim/Bogrot campers who I had the opportunity to accompany to Jewish Arts Festival hosted by Camp Pembroke. The van ride was loud and “spirited” and a highlight of the day, but I found myself at loss for words after watching their performance on stage in front of all of Camp Pembroke and the performance teams from six other camps. I had seen them rehearse a dozen times already, but there was something so incredible about that final performance. They were proud of themselves for the work and time they had committed to JAF and their faces revealed the pride they felt in being able to represent CTN on stage that night. The theme of the night was “We Believe in the Future” and through their singing and dancing we all felt it.
All session long the anticipation has been building and the events of Monday were indescribable. At lunch, a fake fight between a gorilla and banana (it’s a camp thing) broke out and the banana was accidentally injured. A counselor alerted the head counselors who walkie-talkied the Health Center staff, all while the rest of camp silently observed the unfolding event. The nurses ran in followed by tons of staff in green and yellow and the announcement for color war was made!! Campers were sent back to their bunks to change into their team colors (yellow for Negev and green for Galil) and met back at the Dance Platform for Running of the Key. The teams ran many of the legs of the competition in their search for the hidden key until it was announced that it was FAKE! Campers, with jaws dropped, handed back their team sweatbands, and headed back to regular programming…it was the most epic fake break in CTN history.
Monday night was a Party Excitement Social in the Gym. Towards the end of the evening, an announcement was made to evacuate the gym and meet in the Dell field. The timing was perfect and as campers silently lined up by bunk the magic happened. An amazing 10 minute fireworks display right from our beach marked the beginning of the long-awaited Color War break. As captains and teams were announced, it was wonderful to watch the camp community come together to support their friends, at the same time they divided themselves into two different teams. We picked up where we left off for the running of the key and then everyone headed back to their bunks!
Early Tuesday morning, camp was already abuzz with banner planning and song writing. On any given day a 7:30 am wake-up can be a challenge for this age group, but the desire to succeed in the competition brought them out of their bunks extra early to prepare for Color War. After breakfast and clean up, we had team meetings and competitions. What impressed me most about all of the CW competition was our campers’ determination to win complimented by their sportsmanship and support of others. I loved watching campers cheer on their teammates and also their friends on other teams. The day continued with Captains Volleyball, Tug o’ War and Gold Rush. Campers got ready for dinner after an incredibly fun, very wet couple of hours of GR. Tuesday night was American Gladiators where each age group competes in an indoor competition in an area set-up. The grand finale was a new addition to Color War. For the final event, all of camp gathered outside for mud gaga. Seeing camp clumped tightly together around the pit with lights shining gave me goosebumps even through my mud-caked skin. It was one of my most favorite camp memories yet!
The next day was Aquadome (aquatics competition) and Skydome (athletics) followed by Thunderdome for the evening activity. Wednesday was extra special because Negev and Galil had the chance to welcome back the CATs/CITs to camp by lining the road through camp as they ran through the crowd. Now our camp family is complete!
On Thursday, the teams participated in Quiz Bowl, Quidditch and the Apache Relay. For four hours every camper at camp played a part in helping their team come out on top! This race around camp includes 112 different events. Team members each perform events as part of this all-camp race. There are running events, water events, athletic events and miscellaneous events like washing a car, writing a postcard and biking a lap around the lake. I can’t even describe the energy and spirit generated by the Apache. This event concludes with the team captains skipping across camp, ready to make a fire with the wood they’ve collected. As the fires burn, teams watch and cheer to see which fire burns the team rope first. Last night our teams presented their Puzzlefest, Photofest, Clipfest, Dramafest, Bannerfest and Songfest. Points were added up and the winners announced – Go Negev!
Now that Color War has ended, we are happy to no longer be two teams and to go back to being one camp. Our late wake-up and omelet bar breakfast was the perfect reset button. I love that as Color War ends, we go right into Shabbat. I am looking forward to the peacefulness of the holiday followed by the regularity of next week.