Archive for 'General Posts'

One in a Million

November 14, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Campers.

By: Jordyn & Becca (2014 B’yachad Campers)

Editor’s Note: Jordyn and Becca wrote and delivered this D’var Shabbat during B’yachad Shabbat 2014.  It is reprinted here with permission from their parents. 

What are the odds that a girl who goes to a private Christian school in Minneapolis, Minnesota meets a girl who goes to a public school in St. Louis Missouri?  Many people would say the chances are…

One in a million.

But the communities that those girls are a part of make that number decrease.

The dictionary definition of community is: a social, religious, occupational, or other group that shares common characteristics or interests.  To these girls community means so much more.  Let us spell it out for you, C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y or a different spelling, C-A-M-P-M-U-N-I-T-Y.  Campmunity, out of all of the possible kehillot or communities, Herzl Camp is the only one that brought them together.

Campmunity.  This play on words is perfectly described through the little traditions at machaneh.  Dancing until they are sweating at breakfast, their counselors singing to them every night before bed, and all of the schticky moments in between, create a unique bond that is indescribable.

What are the odds a first session camper and a second session camper are put in the same cabin Kadimah sumer?

One out of 50 girls in Kadimah.

What are the odds that those girls spent every waking moment together and made Kadimah summer one to remember?

One out of 12 cabin mates.

These girls, along with a few other friends, were determined to not let these new friendships slip away during the school year.  These friends needed a way to still spend every waking moment together after camp.  Obviously, what every girl would do would be to create a group iMessage.

From 2 days after Kadimah summer to 2 hours before we got on the busses for the last time as campers, there was not a day that passed where they felt as if they were 550 miles apart.

Sending funny Vine videos, counting down the days until they were all reunited, listening to everyone vent about their problems, or just checking in to say hi, these girls made it apparent that the bond between them was unbreakable.

Also to bring home a little of the Herzl magic, these girls carried on a weekly tradition of high/low hero every Sunday night at 9.

For the past year, these close friends made an effort to make it feel as though they were never apart.  They know this friendship formed by the kehilah at Herzl Camp will truly last a lifetime.

Odds are the girls standing on the mercaz right now became best friends.

One in a million.

1,2,3…1 Hand in Hand we will hold on.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Building a Sense of Community

November 7, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.

2014 Ozrim

By: Eli (Ozo 2014)

Editor’s Note:  Below is an excerpt from one of Eli’s college application essays that highlights the sense of community at Herzl Camp.  It is re-printed with permission from his mother.

When I think of the word “community,” my mind automatically goes to the summer camp I have attended since I was seven.  Herzl Camp focuses on building a sense of community between all people within the camp, whether it is a young camper away from home for the first time, or an experienced counselor living in a utopia hidden from the imperfect world outside.

As a camper, I was taught by college kids who were my counselors on how to be a better person.  No matter how bad of a mood I was in, I would always have my staff to confide in and know that we both had a mutual goal of happiness.  Even after the summer, when I was home, the lessons learned from the community formed helped me throughout the year.  I was taught how to ask people for help, and how to be happy with the circumstances that fall on you.  There is nowhere else on the planet that has such a mutual understanding of community.  Campers are all supporting each other, with staff there support them, and staff are there to be together and learn the true values of how to be a better person.

"Mama" Ozo Sara Gottlieb, Eli & "Papa" Ozo Jon Savitt

This past summer, I got to be on the other side of camp for the first time, as an ozo, and I learned that within the Herzl Camp community, everyone is out to make each other a better person.  I always expected that being a staff member was boring and unfulfilling because of the constant work necessary.  However, I realized I was wrong. The hard work pays off when the kids you are taking care of smile, or tell you how much fun they are having.  Just knowing that the lessons and experiences you had as a camper are being passed down to the next generation of campers is enough to make me truly happy.  There are countless staff members that I can remember gave me wonderful memories, and my only hope is to give that to my campers and complete the circle of love and community.  The sense of responsibility a staff member has is a feeling like no other, and very few people outside of camp know what it is like to have thirteen little boys adore and revere you.

Within the borders of Herzl Camp exists an understanding.  This understanding is the knowledge that everyone is there for each other and that you can always learn how to be a better person from anyone within these hallowed camp borders.

Shabbat Shalom.

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The In-Betweener

October 24, 2014 by , under General Posts, Giving Back to Camp, Letters from Alumni.

The author (far right, in red) and the 2005 Ozrim

By: Mike Neiman

It’s a tough stage to be in, when you love Herzl Camp.  You have far surpassed your days on staff, but don’t have any children (existing or old enough) to send for the summer.  Sometimes this is called “young professionals”, other times just “20s and 30s” … but when it relates to camp, you are now a member of In-Betweeners Club.

How do you cope?  How do you relate?  How do you go on?!  Although it may be tough to see all the fun happenings from your youngest campers (who are now senior staff), or your oldest staff’s children, we in-betweeners still have a few ways to stay engaged and feel a part of the Herzl Camp community we desperately need so badly in our life.  So instead of sulking about another Thursday night without a cookout, instead try the following tips to stay engaged through this tough time.  And don’t worry, in your own time, you’ll have children of your own to send to camp and then you’ll be right back in the camp spotlight again!

1.       Join the Herzl Camp Facebook group.  The Alumni Wednesday photos are a great way to spark memories, and the community is always posting pictures, updates, and comments from current campers and staff to whet your palette.  Even more, post your own Throwback Thursday picture to your social networks of you and your friends and tag Herzl Camp!

2.       Attend events.  We have had some great events in the past, ranging from Triva Bar Nights, to Shabbat Dinners, to Benefit Concerts at the Mercaz.  There are great options throughout the year to still connect with your inner-camp and camp friends, even if you won’t be there during the summer.

3.       Join a committee on the Herzl Camp Board.  Get your feet wet on the lay-leader side of camping and help contribute to the summer planning for the current generation.  There are tons of committees that range from programming to finance and more.  If you try it and like it, maybe a seat on the board could be a great next step as well!  (nominations occur in the spring).

4.       Volunteer at the Herzl Camp office!  Camp will happily find a way to help you feel connected.  Join the Herzl Chaverim (corps of volunteers) and help out in the office on a monthly basis by mailing registration forms, stuffing envelopes or even helping at the buses.

5.       Plan and/or attend a reunion!  If you are lucky enough to be at a milestone year (e.g. 5 years, 10 years), then help coordinate the group for a reunion.  This can be at camp, just a day in Siren, or gathering at someone’s home.  Reunions have become very popular lately and camp will help you get yours planned.  P.S. Shout out to the 2005 X-Treme Ozrim, I can’t wait for our 10-year reunion this summer!

Embrace the In-Betweener.  Enjoy this commitment-free stage in life, but don’t remove yourself from the things you love most.  Herzl Camp is happy to welcome you back!

Shabbat Shalom.

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A Baba’s Top Ten

October 15, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Parents.

Baba and family at Family Camp 2014

By: Bonnie Vickar (Bonnie, aka “Baba”, attended Family Camp with her children and grandchildren this past summer.)

#10 – Seeing my son get giddy with excitement as we got closer to camp.  Each mile had its own special marker with an accompanying story such as the laundromat where they washed the campers clothes.  Yes, I paid money to send my son to camp so he could wash other people’s clothes.

#9 – My son showing off his graffiti on the walls of the Beit Tarbut.  Okay, it was his name on the wall and each year he added the current year.  He should have added 2014.

#8 – Walking around the camp.  Remembering the old Herzl while appreciating the new, especially the air conditioned rooms we stayed in.  Aaron was quick to remind his son, Nelson, that when he was at camp they had to improvise their own gaga pit by placing benches on their sides.

#7 – Challah making on Friday morning to be followed by Challah eating at dinner.  Grandchildren have a way of adding that special something to everything they touch.

#6 – Time set aside for Shabbat preparations.  I have never been a camper at Herzl but 23 years ago, with all three of our kids at camp, my husband and I were invited for a regular Shabbat weekend.  I remember laying in our cabin listening to the voices of the campers as they passed by on their way to the haks (bathrooms).  Their laughter, their singing and especially those practicing for the services was more uplifting than any Rabbi’s sermon.  It was simply from the heart.

#5 – Seeing everyone dressed in white joining the Shabbat caravan.  For us, it was 3 generations together.  Yes, I was moved to tears.  As I was fumbling for tissues my grandson came back to walk with me.  Never enough tissues!!

#4 – Shabbat morning cinnamon rolls.  I had 2, confident in the knowledge that there are no calories at Herzl Camp.

#3 – Services at the Mercaz.  Simple and meaningful set against a perfect backdrop.

#2 – It was pure pleasure watching everyone enjoy the waterfront Shabbat afternoon.  Nelson, now 8, paddling his own kayak.  Isabelle, also 8, and Ansley, age 9, swimming and enjoying the afternoon as only children can.

#1 – Of course number one has to be being with my children and grandchildren.  Hearing my son reminisce with  former campers and sharing my grandchildren’s new experiences.  Shabbat morning, Nelson in his PJs,  playing chess with his cinnamon bun sticky fingers.  Isabelle with a huge smile on her face each time she rang that bell on the rock wall.  Ansley dancing with her Dad on Saturday night.  When did she get so tall?  So much happiness and no batteries required.

Because I was the oldest one at Family Camp, I give myself permission to ramble.  My son was a very good hockey player.  In 1997, he was playing for the University of North Dakota when they won the Division I national championship.  While in high school, the team parents were shocked to find out that Aaron was not spending his summers at one of the many elite hockey camps.  They didn’t understand that he was going to an “elite” camp.  The skills he would develop, and I am not talking about doing laundry, were far more reaching than what happens at an ice rink.  Whether he was a camper or staff, his summers at Herzl challenged him, energized him and grounded him.  I know his experience was not unique.  At Herzl Camp, no matter what you bring to the table, you are made to feel that is exactly what is needed.  Seeing my grandchildren briefly interact with the staff I felt that legacy of caring is as strong as ever.  When we left camp, Nelson asked his dad to stop so he could take a picture of the Herzl sign.  In one way or another, I think everyone took home a little piece of Herzl. I know I did!

Editor’s Note: Interested in joining us in Webster for Family Camp 2015? Click here for details and registration information. 

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Tutus and Clown Shoes

October 8, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Campers, Letters from Parents, Letters from Staff.

By: Hannah (2014 Noar Camper)

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally written by Hannah for a creative writing assignment to write about a special place.  It is posted with permission from her parents. 

Herzl Camp

Herzl Camp is just so magical because when you walk into camp you are free to be yourself.  You can wear a tutu and clown shoes and nobody really cares.  When you walk out from the bus, counselors are screaming their heads off, give you high fives…but it is only just because you are here.  They sing songs and then comes the most exciting part of all…you get to find out who is in your cabin!  After that, they call our names, we sit down and eat cookies and lem-lem (which stands for lemonade).  We sit in a circle and we say our names and our favorite ice cream and stuff like that.  Then, we go to our cabin and each cabin has a theme like “the cupcake makers”.  My theme was sailors.  We learned a song for our cabin.  My song was “we are sailors va va va”.  You will learn one too.

Each cabin has a Hebrew letter or a number – it matters where you are.  For example, I was in cabin Vav in Kadimah Land.  And then came the lake swim.  The cold lake swim. Boy was it cold.  But can I tell you a secret…When you go into the lake, go in holding hands all as a cabin and just run in and then, if you want you, can do ring around the rosie and then you dunk when you say “we all fall down”…that’s what I do.  Or, if that does not help, do high knees.  After the lake swim you get your bed all ready and then that brings you right to dinner and there was a really cool saying for dinner on the first night and it is “GET READY FOR SPAGHETTI!”  After dinner, there was an after dinner activity and then after that was over you will walk back to your cabin and you will go into your cozy bed and the counselors will sing you a song and then you go to sleep then the next day will be the funest day ever and so on for the next days.

P.S. Soon you are going to make your best friend ever and you are going to email your counselors.

Herzl Camp is my second home.

Family Camp 2014

A Note from Hannah’s Mom, Wendy Clyman: 

After I had the chance to read the above journal entry that Hannah wrote for school, my first thought was – is this the same kid that had second, third and fourth thoughts about going to camp?  My second thought went instantly to her Noar counselors and how amazing each one was because they helped her have the most amazing summer.  Raleigh Kibort, Becca Lear, Rachel Alter – I would love a chance to let your parents know what a profound impact you made on my daughter this past summer.  You are role models for her, she looks up to you and there isn’t a day that goes by where she does not mention one of you.  Being an only child, Hannah doesn’t get a chance to have an “older sister” type relationship…but then she goes to camp and can have young ladies like you around for an extended period of time.  It is absolutely priceless.  Your parents should be proud of each of you and I would like to let them know how thankful I am that they raised such wonderful young ladies.  For parents that are reading this and wondering if Herzl Camp is the right place for your child, I can honestly say it is, you will not find a better group of young people to help guide your child, teach your child and love your child as if they were one of their own.

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Lessons from Camp and the High Holidays

October 3, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts.

By: Rachel Saks 

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted on The Canteen and is reposted with permission from the Foundation for Jewish Camp and My Jewish Learning, Inc.

The buses have rolled away, the bags are unpacked, the phone calls between your campers and their friends are sending your phone bill sky high, and the countdown until next summer has already begun. As the days and weeks tick by, the Jewish calendar asks us to take pause and evaluate ourselves and account for our deeds. With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur right around the corner we begin the process of looking at what we have done and how we have grown so we can do more and grow more. The High Holidays aren’t just about beating our chests in repentance; they are also about accepting responsibility for our individual and communal actions and learning from our past experiences. Click here to continue reading.

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Beyond the Empty Nest

September 19, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Parents.

Matt, Brett & Adam as campers...Or, Brett, Matt & Adam. Can you guess the order?

By: Cindy Tarshish (mom of Gabe, Evan & Adam and former Herzl Camper) and Wendi Rosenstein (mom of Brett & Matthew)

While volunteering at the Herzl office last week (which is great and you should try it sometime), we were asked how we were handling being empty nesters.  We both sighed and admitted that we really missed our boys.  We then decided that we would simply ignore the fact that Adam, Brett and Matthew are in college but rather pretend they are just staffing camp for the next eight weeks.  What happens at the end of eight weeks remains to be told, but we will keep you posted.  In all seriousness however, we are grateful that having our children attend and staff Herzl Camp in some way has prepared us to let our sons go off in the world, or at least to Brandies and UW – Madison.

We know these boys have learned wonderful life lessons behind those orange walls.  They have learned daily living skills such as sharing a bathroom with several cabins at a time, how to wake up on time (or have an OZO wake you up), how to get dressed and to flag within 10 minutes, and how to share meals, chanut and care packages with your cabin mates.  They have also learned larger life lessons, such as comforting a friend who is homesick, being inclusive to campers with special needs, and respecting the staff and camp.

Adam's in the middle...can you guess which one is Brett & which one is Matt?

They have earned the respect of their peers and older Herzl staff because they are menches.  We give them up to Herzl every summer and know they are safe and loved.  They are embraced in their summer home just as they hope to be at home among their college friends and professors who will guide them through even more life lessons.

What is the take home from this blog?  We are grateful that Herzl has had such a positive influence in our boys’ lives and we can rest assured they will use this experience to transition well into college life.  While on the one hand we are happy and excited for them, we both still seem to be transitioning to the life of empty nesters.  So, if you see us a little too often volunteering at the Herzl offices, you will know it is our new way of handling being empty nesters.

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: If you, too, find yourself with an empty nest and are looking for something meaningful to do,  join the Herzl Chaverim – a group of volunteers who join us in the office on a monthly basis to help with a variety of projects.  Click here for more information about volunteering. 

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If You Will it, It is No Dream

September 12, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

The 1995 Ozrim

By: Cara Greene Epstein (Camper and staff member between 1989-97; Family Camper in 2014)

The first real thing that I ever directed was the 1995 Ozo play. Yes, I consider that a real thing and no, I didn’t do it by myself. I co-directed it with this guy you’ve probably never heard of (unless, of course, you read BuzzFeed’s The Official Ranking of the 51 Hottest Jewish Men in Hollywood and then, fine, he’s Number 2).  But back to me.

Growing up, I had two big dreams: 1. To be a writer/director/actor. 2. To be an Ozo. If you’d asked me which one I wanted to be more, it honestly would have been hard for me to decide.  So when, in the summer of 1995, I became an Ozo and got to write, direct, and act in the Ozo play, it wasn’t just a dream come true, it was two. 

That summer was one of the most joyous of my life.  It was also the hardest I had ever worked.  Turns out the cliché is true – dreams don’t come easy.  They take dedication, hard work, courage, a lot of ruach and very little sleep.  If you’ve ever been an Ozo, or a parent, then you know what I’m talking about. Dreams don’t just happen – they’re a labor of love. 

This summer I was lucky enough to have another opportunity to turn a dream into reality.  I spent six weeks in Minneapolis shooting Dragonfly, an independent feature film that I wrote and am co-directing and acting in. Dragonfly follows the story of struggling artist Anna Larsen, who returns home to Minnesota to help care for her mother who has been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. It’s a beautiful little film about homecoming and healing and it also features Herzl alumni David Greene and Robyn Frank. They’re great!

While this film is a dream come true, tackling a dream of this size takes a village.   Last week we launched our Dragonfly Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds we need to see our film through to completion. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by how many of my Herzl friends have generously supported our campaign, but I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. I chose to set Dragonfly in Minnesota because that’s where my village is.  It’s where the people live whom I know will always support me, encourage me, and have my back, and the Herzl community has always been a huge part of that village for me.

That’s why this summer, in the middle of shooting my first feature film, I took a break and I took my family to Herzl.  I did it for a lot of reasons – I wanted to get off the grid, I wanted to jump in the lake with my kids, and I wanted my husband to understand what this whole “Jewish camp” thing is about.  But underneath all of that, I really just wanted to reconnect with my village and with the magic of Herzl, the place where I first learned that with enough hard work, ruach, joy, and determination, no wall is too high, no lake is too wide, and no dream is too crazy.  Because after all, if you will it, it is no dream.

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Cara’s film Dragonfly and how to support it, click here.

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Lessons from a Bulletin Board

September 5, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.

By: Anna Simon, Community Relations Manager

I was sitting in my home office trying to think of what to write for the blog when I looked up (that’s what people do for inspiration, right?) and stared at my bulletin board.  Editor’s Note: A bulletin board truly the original Pinterest…it’s actually made of cork, it hangs on your wall and you use push pins to attach real things to it.  Yes, I still have a bulletin board…don’t judge me.  Fine, judge me all you want…I’m proud of my bulletin board.  I like the fact that I don’t have to turn on something electronic for inspiration.  If you must know, I also have a phone that is attached to the wall with a cord so you can only walk about 10 feet from the phone while chatting with a friend – it kind of forces you to stop whatever else you are doing and focus solely on the conversation with your friend.  Plus, it’s a super-cool transparent 1980s telephone…I know you want one.

Ok, back to the bulletin board…As I was searching for some inspiration, it occurred to me that this bulletin board is very “camp”…but not in the way you might think.  There are no friendship bracelets, camp pictures or candle-sharing gifts pinned to this board.  It’s really just a collection of random quotes, photos, buttons and childhood memorabilia that probably all belong in a junk drawer.  It actually kind of looks like a junk drawer hanging on the wall.  Each item is a visual representation of something much more than one might think.  Almost everything pinned to the board is from a time, place or experience where I was able to be the most true and authentic version of myself  - or, my camp self, as I like to call it.  This messy, old-school cork board serves as a constant reminder to continue to strive to be my best self…my camp self.

As I look up at it, I see so many things that represent the lessons I learned as a camper, Ozo and staff member.

  • Ba’al Tashchit…Respect the land, the buildings, the earth
  • Be kind
  • Be silly
  • Celebrate
  • Find inspiration
  • Connect with your community
  • Sing
  • Unplug
  • Make new friends
  • Explore
  • Work hard
  • Be compassionate
  • Be creative
  • Show gratitude and appreciation
  • Laugh
  • Stand up for what you believe in
  • Make stuff…with your hands
  • Take pride in your history
  • Help people
  • Try something new
  • Play

Every summer, I get to watch our staff and Ozrim teach these lessons to our campers and to one another.  And, every summer I am inspired by what I see.  For me, this little bulletin board inspires me to strive to be better and to be my most authentic camp self…just like our staff and Ozrim are inspiring our campers to do.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Shabbat Shalom, Love the Ozrim

August 29, 2014 by , under General Posts.

Check out what we stumbled across while rearranging some boxes in the office. Yes, we know you’ll be singing these songs all day long…you’re welcome. Shabbat Shalom.

1966 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Oklahoma
OZRIM! We’re Ozos and we want
Machaneh to know
When there’s when there’s work to do,
We’ll well see it through
And you’ll find your spirit never low!
OZRIM! We’re Ozos in a group that’s really unified
We’re responsible and trustworthy
And you’ll always find us side by side
You know we belong to the camp
And the camp we blond to is camp
And when we say Herzl
We’re really on our way
We’re really saying
We’re proud Herzl Ozrim
We’re the OZOs
H-E-R-Z-L-O-Z-R-I-M OZRIM
 
1967 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Kellog’s Corn Flakes Commercial
Stand up
Give a great big cheer
’67 Ozrim are here
we know that we are on top
Our leadership will never stop
 
Stand up chonim
Take heed madrichim
Herzl, stand up
Stand up and up and up and up and up
For the ’67 Ozrim
 
1977 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Those Were the Days, My Friend
’77 Ozrim, we keep the Machaneh clean
And we have fun at everything we do
We shlep the docks for you, we clean the haks for you
And when we sing, you know we really mean…
 
Chonim large and small, we love you one and all
With Bev and Bob behind us all the way
You know we’re always there, because we really care
Herzl Camp, we’re with you all the way
 
To the tune of: Alice’s Restaurant
We’ll help you with everything you need
The ’77 Ozrim 
(repeat)
 
1982 Ozo Song
To the tune of: There’s No Business Like Show Business
We’re 16 keen Ozrim
We’re shvitzing for you
Even though we often seem outrageous
B-bopping hopping up in the chadar
You will find our ruach is contagious
With an Ozo you’ll go far
We’re know for docks and our b-ball jocks
There’s nothing we can’t do
Spastically we jump and shout for Mom and Pop
We’ll never stop, we’ll reach the top
Meeting, greeting, treating you like number one
We’ll have some fun, before we’re done
When it comes to Herzl’s crop we are the cream
The ’82 Ozrim
 
To the tune of: The Big Fig Nuten commercial
Giving tender loving on the inside
Sweats and Herzl t-shirts on the outside
Mix the smiles with the sweat
And what do ya think you get? 
You get the ’82 Ozrim
One more time
A grand old time
Here’s the tricky part
The ’82 Ozrim
 
The 1995 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Chocolate Banana song
1, 2, 3…C’mon People!
 
Thanks for knockin’, come on in
Ozo summer is about to begin
What are Ozrim all about?
Listen up and don’t storm out
Toast, luggage, clipboard art and fun 
Docks, laundry, doin’ dump and run
 
Hey Herzl – Shake your leg!
 
To the tune of: Me & Julio
Every morning we wake you up and you  see
our smiling faces
When we go to eat it is such a treat to get
Apple Jacks at our place
’95 Ozrim
We make a perfect team
Livin’ Herzl’s dream
’95 Ozrim
 
On the go or in the mo we never stop to rest
But ask about page 65 and we’ll never past the test
Where is our pay?
Oh, it’s never coming
But that’s okay
 
There is no place we’d rather be
We are the Ozrim
of ’95
 
Playing Ultimate Frisbee in Ozo Park
Together in the unexpected dark
 
Excuse me, are you a vegetarian?
 
To the tune of: Wake Me Up Before you Go Go)
Ozrim (4 snaps) – ’95 (4 snaps)
 
Machaneh have no fear
Because the Ozrim ’95 are here
We always aim to please
Through drama games and FMGs
Come on campers rise and shine
We’ve got ruach and we know the time
Services in the chadar
Wear your seat belts if Stacy’s gonna drive the car
Hurry up and grab your fans
‘Cuz we’re late again for our plans
Sippy cups and hadracha
Is that Quentin we just saw?
Hi, wassup – you’re in my seat
Ozrim ’95 can’t be beat!
 
HOT OZO GUYS! HOT OZO GUYS!
Holy rusted metal, Batman!
 
To the tune of: Uncle John’s Band
Doing nikayon each day and shmiring late at night 
We are strong and able and the Ozos do it right
Ozrim are here to help
We are not hear to hinder
Ozos, we always know
There’s something hot for dinner
 
Corey Friedman is our dad, our ma is Stacy K
Goochers, shoes and heavy dews just couldn’t stop our play
 
25 Ozrim
All in the same boat
Oh yes, we are the best
We know cuz we took a vote
This was our Ozo Song
It wasn’t very long!
 
 

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Hineini

August 22, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.

By: Hannah Berc (2014 Communications Coordinator and Hanhallah Member)

Editor’s Note: This week’s blog was originally written and delivered by Hannah on Shabbat during staff week this summer. 

This past spring break, I was fortunate enough to travel with five of my best friends. On the first night, we were sitting at a restaurant and we were all on our cell phones. One girl noticed the irony. What could be more important on social media then being with your best friends…right here, right now? I am sure you have all experienced a similar situation. However, this time, she shared a phrase that changed the way I interact with people and a phrase too important not to share with all of you. She said to us that we need to be “hineini”. We all looked at her confused, none of us proficient in Hebrew. She shared that hineini means to be present and be in this moment. From that discussion on, we put our phones away and challenged each other to really be there. We had an incredible last spring break with each other, grew our friendships more than we thought possible and made amazing memories.

During this last week at camp, we’ve talked about this a little bit but I wanted to take a moment to let you think about hineini in a variety of ways. I challenge all of you to, first and foremost, be present: right now you are sitting at what most of us would consider a second home with people who over the past years have become your family. As I just graduated from college, I can assure you that time flies by. There may not be another summer where you get to live with your best friends, so really live in each moment, have fun, make each other laugh and be with the people who made you love this place so much in the first place. Second, and more importantly, be present with your campers. These campers deserve your full attention. You are granted the unbelievable opportunity to change people’s lives. Although you may get tired and feel like using that extra ruach may not pay off in the moment, it WILL pay off. Being there – really being engaged in the ruach, getting to understand who they are as a person and being there for them emotionally – can alter someone’s life forever. I am sure you can all think of staff members who were there for you when you were a camper. They listened to your emotional needs. They got to know you and challenged you to be a better person.

In this week’s parashat, Moses sends scouts to Canaan and ten of the scouts come back with frightening reports. They tell the Israelites that the land is filled with giants and it is far too dangerous to go there. The people are then too fearful to enter the Promised Land. G-d is angry that the people don’t trust and believe in what G-d told them about Canaan being the Land of Milk and Honey. As a result, G-d decreed a forty-year delay in entering Canaan. All of those scouts lost their faith except Joshua and Caleb.

This summer, you may have to solve problems that you may not think you can solve. I encourage you, like Joshua and Caleb, to not be frightened by what may seem like an impossible mission. Listen to your campers’ needs and be present with them. Although Joshua and Caleb had to wait forty years, their wait paid off. In the moment, being hineini, may not seem to give you an instantly gratifying result but, I can assure you, it will change your life and your campers’ lives in the future.  I challenge you to be hineini in all aspects of your time here. Being hineini will inspire you and allow you to have the best time possible and, more than anything, change your campers’ lives.

I look forward to everything we are about to accomplish and the unforgettable summer we will provide for these campers.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

 

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Grateful and Blessed

August 15, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni, Letters from Parents.

By: Amy (Swatez) Fiterman

#gratefulandblessed
#herzlcampmercazmagic
It’s our annual family driving trip. But let me explain that this is not your ordinary or average driving trip…This is so far from the norm that you have to be navy seal certified. There is no rest for the weary. This is a carefully constructed, planned out to the minute, intense experience that my family of five anxiously looks forward to every year. We all crave the hours of being together, bonding, trying new things, and eating ourselves silly with every delicacy of every state or country we stay in.

The Fiterman family on their Seattle adventure

As we conquered Seattle, Washington, (and yes we did do just that) I had a few minutes to sit back and watch the delight in my kids eyes as they were taking in all the amazing things that this beautiful city had to offer. I kept pinching myself, saying how fortunate I am and how fortunate we are to get to do these things as a family. As I reflected on my childhood and thought about how grateful I was to be able to do the things I did, I thought back to my summers at Herzl Camp. I feel so blessed to have made the life-long friendships I have to this day. While we were driving, I look over and see my best friend, the love of my life, my partner on crime, whose relationship Herzl had cultivated many years back, and I say to my kids, “do you guys know how lucky you are to be able to do these things!?” I am so thankful everyday, for my experience at Herzl Camp because it’s where I got to grow and experience life skills in a Jewish environment. It’s where Jack and I were able to be young and free and share our ideas on life and share our love for Judaism. Today we are married with three beautiful and healthy kids, and we are still doing all of those things and more together, thank G-d.

So, long story short…a year and a half ago, we were invited to an event where Peter Himmelman was brought in to do something called The Big Muse as a corporate team building experience. Well let’s just say great minds think alike because both Jack and I left that night so inspired by what took place just hours before, and our ideas were firing off like fireworks. We had this whole crazy idea of this amazing experience of bringing Peter Himmelman to the Mercaz at Herzl to do The Big Muse and concert for everyone to enjoy and explore their own Jewish journey. We had it all mapped out and romanticized in our heads of what we wanted it to be like, where we wanted it to be, and how we wanted it to feel. We felt that the idea of having it up at Herzl, at the Mercaz, would really allow for the floodgates of emotions to connect everyone to their own path of Judaism and what it means to them and their lives. Now we just had to convince Herzl to let us do this. So, after a couple of meetings with some key players at the Herzl office along with Jack’s persistent and convincing nature, this crazy idea came to fruition! We were in like Flynn! We were beyond excited, over the moon- thrilled! This was our chance to give back to Herzl, what we had learned during our time as campers and staff.

The culmination of our passion is called Music & Musings at the Mercaz, Herzl’s first-ever benefit concert. Yes, we were able to meet our goal of bringing Peter Himmelman to the Mercaz at Herzl for a spectacular event that will help camp! On September 14, 2014, Peter will join us at the Mercaz to perform some of his top hits as well as his Big Muse project. We can’t wait to share it with all of you!

We are both passionate about giving every kid the opportunity of having a Jewish camp experience and for every child to be able to experience a similarly amazing camp experience with inclusion capabilities so it just made sense to incorporate those things into the event . Editor’s Note: Through sponsorships and ticket sales, this event will raise money for camp scholarships and inclusion services at camp. Working together on this event has been an unbelievable labor of love. We are so grateful that we could work with Herzl to make our dream become a reality.

Amy and Jack

This has truly been an amazing thing to watch as it’s grown. Our crazy little idea has grown tremendously with help from so many people we are so thankful for. I would encourage everyone to do yourselves a favor, and join our passion! Scholarships and inclusion needs touch so many of us or someone we know…please join us in supporting those efforts! I promise you, you won’t want to miss out on this “first time event”!

Music & Musings at the Mercaz is sure to be a spectacular event! I hope to see you all there!

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: Click here for event details including sponsorship and ticket sales.

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Thank You for Another Amazing Summer!

August 8, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.

To our Herzl Campers, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Volunteers and Community Members,

Thank you for another amazing summer! Whether you are currently wading through piles of laundry, incessantly Instagram/SnapChat/Facebook-ing your friends from camp or simply remembering what it was like when you came home from camp oh so many years ago, it’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close.

Here are some of our favorite memories from Summer 2014:

20.   Welcoming the 2014 staff and ozrim to Machaneh Paradise

19.   Watching alumni put their children and grandchildren on the bus for first time as they reminisce about their own first bus ride to camp

18.   Playing gaga with the campers

17.   Mastering the art of starting a lanyard bracelet

16.   Teaching the Taste Campers about the Herzl Camp traditions

15.   Catching a camper cleaning up camp (when they didn’t actually know that you were watching them)

14.   Watching the bald eagles soaring over the Mercaz during Shabbat

13.   Hearing laughter and ruach spill from every square foot of camp

12.   Dancing like a flash mob in the chadar

11.   Smelling delicious cinnamon rolls on Shabbat morning

10.   Observing the breathtaking blanket of stars in the sky every night before lights out

9.   Meeting our new Israeli campers and introducing them to Herzl Camp

8.   Sampling organic vegetables from the Gan Kehilati (Community Garden)

7.   Celebrating little moments every single day

6.   Walking hand-in-hand with new friends in the Shabbat Caravan

5.   Seeing the spark of curiosity from campers during Shabbat Sichot

4.   Observing campers learning a new skill, discovering a new talent or becoming a leader

3.   Raising and lowering the American, Israeli and Herzl Camp flags together as one camp kehilah (community)

2.   High five-ing campers as they get off the bus on the first day of each session

1.   Experiencing the magic of Herzl Camp during a summer filled with ruach, good friends, beautiful Shabbat experiences and a life-time of memories

Thank you for all those memories and more. See you next summer!

Shabbat Shalom.

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What makes Herzl Camp Magic…the people or the place?

July 25, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff.

By: Anna Simon, Community Relations Manager

When I talk to alumni, campers and staff about the power of camp or the magic of Herzl, they often talk about connecting to something deeper…something magical. They tell me about…

  • the Ozo who encouraged them to step out of their comfort zone and try something new
  • how celebrating Shabbat together as one camp kehilah (community) made them feel as if they were a a part of something truly special
  • their first friendship bracelet and how they wore it every single day for an entire year until it their parents forced them to take it off for their Bat Mitzvah weekend
  • how they sing songs from Friday night song session to lull their babies to sleep at night
  • how they were scared to climb the wall with Kadimah but somehow managed to muster the courage to get in line and afterwards felt a strength they never knew they had
  • how their counselor patiently taught them to make a top bunk bed
  • how they made a friend from a place they thought was so far away but really was just Omaha, Nebraska…a simple phone call away

Their answers are most often about meaningful moments, personal accomplishments and special people rather than a certain building or structure around camp. However, if you specifically ask about a meaningful place in camp, the stories just start flowing. Yes, we always say that though our buildings change, the magic remains the same. And, that is very true. However, those buildings – both old and new – do play a significant role in contributing to the wonderful camp memories for many, many people.

At last week’s staff meeting, Amy Goldfine talked about the significance and importance of truly seeing buildings around camp and she asked the staff to answer this question: Is there a place or building at camp that is meaningful to you or makes you feel connected to Herzl Camp as a whole? What is it and why is it meaningful to you? Their answers were just as powerful as the stories they tell about meaningful moments, personal accomplishments and special people at camp…here are just a few:

“The Bayit Shelanu…the simplicity of nature inspires me.”

“The Mercaz is one of the most meaningful places to me because it is where I can peacefully reflect on my day or summer and look over the lake.”

“The Ulam because it is the first building I entered at Herzl and nothing anyone told me prepared me for he ruach and excitement I found there.”

“The Old Ozo Mo because it is a defining symbol of camp. It is one of the last older generation buildings of camp and is also a defining feature in Ozo Park.”

“The Old Amanut Building because it’s where I spent so many days.”

“Walking the Paths..even though camp is changing, only the path stays the same.”

“For me, the Chadar is a symbol of camp unity. It is the place where everyone at camp comes together at least three times a day. At the chadar, we eat, pray and sing together.”

The Center of the Lake. One summer we kayaked to the middle of the lake to watch the sunrise and it was truly beautiful. That’s when I realized that you don’t need crazy programming to have an amazing time at camp. It’s the people around you and being in that exact moment.”

“The Kadimah Wall. I love watching all of camp come together and cheer on such an epic event that has left such an excellent mark on camp. The Kadimah Wall makes me proud to be a part of that legacy and I love watching it continue each year and continue to bring camp together.”

We treasure the buildings throughout camp just as much as the people because the walls of those buildings are infused with the magic of Herzl Camp. The next time you visit camp, you just might look at a building in a new light and see the magic shine from within.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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Dear Herzl Camp Alumni

July 18, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

Johanna (far left) and the 2004 Ozrim at their reunion this summer

By: Johanna (Stein) Hyman (Former camper, Ozo, staff member and Program Director)

At camp, time stands still: you forget what day of the week it is, what your friends and family are doing. You’re enveloped by the experience, unsure when you arrived or how many days you have left. Living in Herzl Time, you’re frozen in a permanent state of ruach and schtick. And while in the post-camp years, those summers seemed forever frozen in time, your lives changed and continued on. But, the physical structures of Herzl remained.

Now, after nearly a full renovation and transformation of camp’s physical appearance, I admit I was nervous returning as an alum. My worst fear? That camp’s magical “frozen-in-time” feeling would be gone; today’s campers would be somehow different because of all the changes; that Herzl’s spirit was, in essence, destroyed when they knocked down 90% of the camp I knew.

I am writing this letter to tell you that after spending a weekend at Herzl, there was nothing (and is nothing) to be nervous about. Yes, the cabins are new (they even have wooden bunks, built in cubbies and ceiling fans), and the old chadar is gone (thank goodness because it was a safety hazard). And sure, the docks at the waterfront have been replaced, and the mercaz benches have backs on them. I do not sit here writing this letter in an attempt to convince you everything remains the same. It’s not: the camp we knew looks different…very different. But camp feels the same: the smell of bug spray and sunscreen permeates the air; wet beach gear hangs from the clothing lines while flip-flops and toiletry carriers sit on the porches of the cabins; counselors march to the haks carrying iPod speakers with their campers wrapped tightly in towels (can anyone say “shower party?”). And most importantly, the insane ruach, silly shtick and that overall unexplainable Herzl warm-fuzzy feeling still lingers in the Webster air.  With one Shabbat caravan and Sunday morning breakfast singing “Od Lo Achalnu”, I was comforted. I now know, after seeing it with my own eyes, that you can change the way Herzl looks, but no new structure or physical update will ever change the way Herzl feels.

I hope this letter helps ease some of your anxieties over what the physical changes have done to camp. Worry not that the old chadar is gone – I’m sure the story of Rosemary will always live on – or that the window frame you scribbled your name on in tzrif 9 has been destroyed. What truly matters is that below the pretty sparkling new fixtures, Herzl Camp remains the camp you knew and loved, and the camp your children will one day love, as well. Trust that Herzl camp’s spirit is safely frozen in time.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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Discovering Our Inner Artist

July 11, 2014 by , under General Posts.

By: Gary Fine

Editor’s Note: Gary, along with his wife Wendy, spent several days as an artist-in-residence for our B’yachad program (10th graders) last week. They helped our campers design and create a beautiful large mural that will be installed in our Beit Ruach (our gym/sports facility). We are so grateful for their time, energy and inspiration!  To see more of Gary’s beautiful works of art, click here

I was recently invited to Herzl camp to create a mural with the B’yachad campers, and had hoped that they would ultimately create something special.  As a former staff member, 40 years ago,  it was a rare treat for me to come back to work with the campers and staff this past week in a new capacity. It was a wonderful experience for me and for Wendy.

Herzl camp is that magical place where children play and become adults, and adults can play and at times act like children. The buildings have changed, but the atmosphere has not.

To begin the project we divided sixteen 3 by 3 feet nearly blank white canvasses among the campers, accompanied with only a brief outline from the Torah creation story.  After a little over 3 days, like white light passing through a crystal, the B’yachad campers through the prism of their own eyes, merged their artwork together and filled a unified universe into a 12 by 12 canvas. Combining their visions, they completed the creation story and created a beautiful mural.

Throughout, Wendy and I were in awe of the B’yachad campers. We watched, occasionally guiding but mostly observing the many different inspiring art pieces that they were creating, and which would become the great mural that was unfolding in their talented hands. It was a learning experience for us, and we hope for B’yachad as well.

Thank you to the Herzl staff who were involved in creating and working on this project and for inviting us to be a working part as well.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

 

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From Canoeing to Coding: How the Summer Camp Experience Has Changed (or hasn’t)

July 4, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

By: Kim Lear, Millennial

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on June 24 on the Bridgeworks blog and is reprinted with permission from the author. 

Summer is a nostalgic season for me. For my entire childhood, the ice melting and flowers blooming only meant one thing: Camp was right around the corner.

For anyone out there who loves summer camp as much as I do, you know the feeling. You wait all year to return to your remote home in the woods. This sanctuary where everything terrible about being a teenager seems to disappear. As summer comes around yet again, I reflect on these wonderful years of color wars, tie-dye shirts and canoe trips. I begin to wonder if camp is one of those places frozen in time. No matter how the world changes around us, perhaps camp is a place of generational consistency.

So what is camp like today for young Gen Edgers?

One of the biggest differences is simply the amount of choices these Gen Edgers have. For many of us, our camping choices were somewhat limited. I didn’t ride horses so horse camp seemed like a stretch. I’m not an athlete so basketball camp was off the table. I settled on a more universal camping experience: arts and crafts, swimming, tennis, staying up all night talking about what counselors we thought were cute (my personal favorite activity).

For these Gen Edgers and their parents, choosing a camp is a different experience. The camping industry has boomed into a 2 billion dollar industry with some parents paying as much as $5,000 a week! Any specialty you can think of…there’s a camp for that.

Secret Agent camp? Check.
Fashion Designer camp? Check.
Adrenaline Junkie camp? Check.
Investment Banking camp? Check.
Whale camp? But of course, check.

In the competitive era that Gen Edgers are growing up in, for some kids today, taking the summer “off” isn’t an option. They are learning languages, writing code, uncovering the mysteries of the sea (at whale camp, I presume), and putting on Oscar-worthy performances at competitive art camps.

The house I made out of paper clips and Popsicle sticks is looking a little pathetic now…

So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe camp today is a totally different experience than it was in the past. Perhaps camp is now based on “actionable takeaways” and “skill-based learning.” But then…I began to read blogs written by kids about their camp experiences. It turns out, the messaging is almost the exact same today as what you may have expected to hear from kids in the Catskills in 1960. Whether it was coding camp or music camp, the blogs are filled with quotes like this:

“Camp has helped shape who I am today. I didn’t just learn about technology, I learned about teamwork and self-confidence.”

“Camp is really the only place I can be myself.”

“You really have to learn how to resolve conflict at camp. There’s nowhere to escape to!”

“I had my first kiss last summer at camp.”

“There is something special about my relationships with my camp friends. I can’t explain it, they just get me.”

Every generation puts their own stamp on how we define childhood and youth culture. At BridgeWorks, we spend as much time tracking consistencies as we do tracking changes. We know the world is changing, yet we also know that kids still love to float down the river in a canoe with their friends covered in mosquito bites. What kids DO at camp may be different but what kids LOVE about camp seems to remain exactly the same.

My old summer camp officially kicked into action last week. I look longingly at the camp Facebook page as pictures are posted of sun-burned, scratched-kneed children and I’m happy to know that everything I loved about camp is what they will love about camp too.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

June 27, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

By: Alex Locke (Former Camper, Staff and Board Member)

As the old saying goes… a picture is worth a thousand words.  They can convey happiness, sadness, excitement, and virtually any other emotion one can think about.  Sometimes you can even try to guess someone’s emotion in a picture.  You may be right, and you may be wrong.  With today’s technology… pictures are instant.  We snap them and get to see how they turned out.  But think back to when you were a camper…

Remember when you had a camera and took pictures all summer long, but couldn’t see those pictures until you got back home and had them developed.  You got to re-live your entire summer all over again, but this time, you got to share those pictures with your parents and family.  They now got to understand what you had just experienced.  And the best part is… you got to do it together.  You got to see your family experience camp with you all over again.  You got to show them your friends, your cabin, your Ozo, your counselor, Bikkurim, and all of those caravan pictures!  Part of what was so fun is you got to tell your parents how you were feeling in those pictures… they didn’t have to guess.

Sadly, that experience has been taken away from campers.  In today’s world, camps put pictures online on a daily basis.  This causes parents all kinds of different emotions.  Some are happy and thrilled while others are upset.  Some parents even call camp when they don’t see their child because they assume it means they are crying in their cabin and not having fun.  Others might call in and say, “I saw a picture of my child, but he wasn’t smiling.  Why is he so unhappy??”

The truth is… your child is having fun, perhaps so much fun that the photographer can’t even keep up with them.  And maybe they’re not smiling in the picture because they don’t like having their picture taken, or they are just being silly and making a goofy face when the photographer says “say cheese.”  The point is… don’t worry about the pictures.  Parents need to trust in the camp staff that if there is anything wrong with your child, they will be in touch with you.  They would never leave it up to pictures for you to assume there is something wrong.  Having been a director of two different camps I can tell you… these staff are trained well to work with your child and to give them the time of their lives.  Don’t worry about the pictures… know that if something is wrong you will hear about it.

And maybe do yourself a favor; don’t even look at the pictures until your child comes home.  Then look together at them just like you did with your parents and you will get to experience camp through your child’s eyes.

Shabbat shalom!

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Shabbat Shalom, Love Herzl Camp

June 20, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff.

By: Meryl Engle (2014 Staff)

Editor’s Note: This blog will be delivered by Meryl as a D’var Torah on Saturday, June 21, the first Shabbat with Campers.

My favorite part about growing up at Herzl Camp was that we not only accept, but embrace being weird.

At Herzl, I wasn’t judged for my obsession with playing with worms. At Herzl, I wasn’t judged for keeping pet rocks in my cubbies.At Herzl, I wasn’t judged for putting peanut butter on my hamburgers. This the place I discovered that it was cool to be unique.

Camp creates this safe bubble for being yourself. That safe bubble allowed me to grow and challenge who I thought I needed to be. Herzl cultivated my inner weirdo, allowing me to become myself without restrictions. I challenge each and every one of you to stop worrying about what people think. Dance crazy at breakfast. Sing at the top of your lungs at ruach. Wear whatever you want. Do what makes you happy. Be whoever it is you need to be; because this is a magical place where you can find yourself…and a pet rock.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Herzl…Behind the Scenes

June 6, 2014 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.

Molly with her Herzl internship presentation at school

By: Molly Apple

As a senior at Blake, we have an opportunity to do any kind of senior program for 2 weeks at the end of the year such as an internship or self-directed project.  I chose to intern at the Herzl Camp office because Herzl is a huge part of my life. It is where I grew up and found myself, so it only made sense I would wrap up my high school career by giving back and learning about what makes Herzl an effective independent non-profit camp. I’ve gone to camp for 9 years, this summer will be my 10th, but I’ve always been on the camp side of camp, never the behind the scenes where the whole “magic” is created. Through this internship, I got to see “backstage.” By observing how camp can work efficiently, I feel I can be a better counselor and Herzl Camp community member.

The main topics I learned about were alumni connections, fundraising, counselor coordination and camper inclusion. To support Herzl’s “Alumni Wednesday” Facebook posts I sorted through old pictures of camp from the old Marpeach, and other photo albums and created collages for different themed Wednesdays. Some include cabin pictures, Bikkurim, the waterfront, and more. Editor’s Note: Thanks to Molly for creating some great collages for Alumni Wednesday. Make sure you “like” our Facebook page so you can see her Alumni Wednesday collages this summer!

I also got to meet with the fundraising team and learn about what it takes for the many facets of camp to work. After such a huge renovation project at camp, I got to see what is next and see the amazing efforts going towards scholarship fundraising in order for more and more kids to be able to spend their summers at Herzl. I learned about the personal relationships that are formed when fundraising, and the long lasting bonds that are what makes the magic and tradition of Herzl so powerful.

To help counselor coordination, I worked on a survey for all the counselors to complete and helped make sure that all the staff completed it. Near the end of my internship, I learned about camper inclusion from Associate Director, Drea Lear. This personal experience gave me more confidence that all campers will have fun at camp because of the opportunity we have as staff to make them feel included and wanted.

After all the insider information I gathered these past few weeks at the Herzl Office, I can’t wait to be a first year staff up at camp this summer!

Shabbat Shalom.

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