by Maya Zinkow, Rosh Nivonim
As we start a new week here at camp, our Nivonim (11th grade) campers are beginning their internship programs in the various specialty areas around camp. They are stepping into leadership roles with excitement and curiosity, especially given the amazing first week they had settling into their new home on the beautiful גבעה (Givah) campus.
All year, we have been watching as the old Nivo cabins came down to make room for new memories, new generations of campers, and new possibilities for our capstone program at camp. We’ve watched as our maintenance staff worked around the clock to get the new cabins, landscaping, and beautiful new moadon up, running, and ready for Nivonim 2017 to be the lucky and privileged first aidah to make the new Givah a home.
This past week, Nivonim took part in a scavenger hunt that took them all around camp; they solved word and math puzzles in Hebrew that guided them to hidden relics of past Nivonim aidot and discussed what it means to be a part of collective memory at camp, adding to the eternal chain of tradition, Jewish living, and friendship we build here year after year. They had the chance to create their own relics, writing ברכות (blessings) for their fellow aidah mates on individual chamsas, pieces of art often found in traditional Jewish homes as symbols of good luck and peace for the home.
One by one, each camper offered his or her blessing for the aidah, and received blessings from many of the Nivo staff and senior leadership team. It was a beautiful sight to witness as adults who still hold camper memories dear in their hearts offered words of love, advice, and passion to the next generation of young Jewish leaders. Nina Harris, one of our staff trainers, painted a heartfelt picture of lifelong friendship: “Keep each other close. One of the people in this room will be your rabbi. Someone will be your doctor, and you’ll need to call them. Someone will be on the board of your child’s school. These are friends you will have for all time.”
We brought in Shabbat together with the Nivonim 2004 reunion group, continuing to build the spirit of דור לדור, generation to generation, as we teach, learn, and commit ourselves to Jewish living, fun, and friendship. Last week, the Givah was empty, and a little cold in all its shiny newness. Today, it is a home; filled with smiles, music, and hopes for a summer, and a lifetime, full of friendship and learning.