Tater Tot Moments

  • Every day we see moments of strong character, honesty, and fairness at camp. The demonstration of integrity at CTN happens throughout camp and were even more obvious as we honored it as the value of the week. When I think back on this week I remember the Bogrim Coffee House where I discovered a camper I’ve known for many years had been hiding his incredible musical talent, that Tsofim/Tsofot are never too old for a good ole game of Panic and that our youngest campers, Olim/Olot, truly have incredible energy reserves, especially if it involves a camp-wide Scavenger Hunt.

    July 4th was filled with glitter tattoos, sno-cones, photo booth shoots and relay games. The day was spirited, fun and the weather was perfect! We were very excited to kick off Tuesday Night Bunk Nights. Our staff were incredible at planning a special evening for their campers for the first one. Everyone reported back that they loved the opportunity to spend the night as a bunk. Bunk 5 did a drumline using various materials from around camp, Bunk 1 watched the Red Sox game in my house (snacks provided of course), some of our younger girls decorated cookies and cakes in the Dining Hall, and our Bogrim/Bogrot campers played what was, in my personal opinion, the most intense game of Man Hunt I’ve ever seen.  So much was happening, in so many places, and it was SO much fun to watch all the moving pieces fit together and contribute to an amazing night…which was made complete by our very own, first annual, fireworks display!

    Wednesday started off with a berry bar, one of our favorite Dining Hall treats. Homemade granola, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries filled bowls and stomachs and coated the floor. Every day we are grateful for the work and time that our Kitchen and Support staff put in to make these sorts of special offerings possible and some of Tsofim boys were able to share their gratitude with the staff by decorating custom t-shirts, pillow cases and writing thank you notes. Evening Activity was intense, fun and filled with table ruach. Fifteen, timed competitive stations scattered throughout the athletics field made up our Table Wars event. I ran the toilet paper wrapping mummy station and there were so many instances of patience and teamwork as I got to observe various mixed tables working together to beat the clock.

    Last night’s Trip Night was wildly successful and one of those moments where I was reminded of the pride I have for this place. As Sharyn Wedge and I roamed the streets of Portsmouth, we were complimented by almost a dozen different people who recognized that our shirts matched those of the energetic, sometimes loud, but always polite, group of campers who were roaming those same streets that night. It was fun to get a taste of the outside but, as always, felt good to return to camp and be reunited with our Tsofs who returned from Mel’s Funway, and with the Oles who spent the evening at Fun World. Great reports from all three groups!

    Other moments of integrity? Camper, Brooke welcoming a new addition to her Master Chef class with a hug and quick tutorial of sushi making as she shared her rice and veggies with her without even a second thought . An Olim camper getting his extra raincoat for a Tevya camper visiting for a rainy game day (Oles went undefeated in Softball and Newcomb!). An entire bunk deciding together, and independently of their counselors input, to sit outside the dining hall so that one of their bunkmates didn’t have to sit alone.

    Walking into the office just this morning, I observed our most senior staff member, Sharon Lasky, entering a conversation with our youngest camper. He jumped right in asking questions but then paused, took a moment and I heard him say, “Oh wait, hold on a second. Good morning, how is your day going so far?”. He’s SEVEN years old. SEVEN. We can’t take the credit for this behavior, he’s got some pretty fantastic parents, but what a great reminder of the strength of character even the very youngest members of our community are capable of.  For me, I consider them “Aha” moments. Those little reminders of the simple stuff that reinforce why I’ve chosen Jewish camping as a career path, and those small moments of awe that make it all SO worth it.

    There were exciting evening activities, the novelty of a Night Trip, special snacks on the 4th of July and fun jam-packed into every minute of programming, but my favorite moment existed in just a one minute interaction. A camper from Bunk 2 approached me on his way back from the Dining Hall after lunch when he saw me entering the Bunk Area from the waterfront. He came shooting up to me, fist closed and held out. He opened it up to reveal two tater tots, fresh out of his sweaty palm, face beaming with pride. He had noticed I wasn’t at lunch and insisted that he “hadn’t done anything to the tater tots” and that he wanted me to have them. I had to. Who knows how long he had been holding on to them, or even if they had spent time in the pockets of his dirty shorts. What I did know, was that he was thoughtful, honest and enthusiastic and I needed to reinforce the greatness of all of those things. And so, I ate the tater tots. I can’t wait to observe and experience those “tater tot” moments that a new week will bring.

    Shabbat shalom, and have a wonderful weekend!


One response to “Tater Tot Moments”

  1. Helen Grogutt says:

    So lovely to hear all of your news – beautifully written. I felt really emotional as I read it and had to give thanks to God for all that you do. Praying this next week will hold as many wonderful moments for you all. 7 year old’s can be pretty awe inspiring and I certainly learn as much from the ones in my class here in Norfolk, England as they do from me! x

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