Tons of fun in Tikvah!

by Jared Skoff, Rosh Tikvah

This summer in Tikvah we are embarking on an ambitious inclusion initiative, with some of our campers spending peulat erev (evening activities), Yom Meyuchad (special day of eidah-specific programs), and Shabbat programming with campers in their peer group from other eidot.

During last week’s Yom Meyuchad program on Wednesday, our campers experienced a variety of programs in six different eidah settings. Our Tikvah eidah program was Yom Game Show, focusing on the importance of choices and decision-making through the lens of game show activities.  The campers particularly loved our “choose your own adventure” discussion groups in the afternoon, when they were confronted with situations while walking on a path around camp. Campers explored the ramifications of the choices they made when faced with scenarios like seeing a waiter drop a stack of plates, watching a friend being teased, and spotting a celebrity.

During the course of the day, five of our campers enjoyed the intense Machon program centered around the “Hunger Games.” One of our campers sang his heart out in Yom Muzika with Bogrim (9th graders), when campers learned about the historical and cultural contexts of music traditions, including the development of hip hop, reggae, blues, and country music. Another camper spent the day in dress rehearsals for his performance in the Shoafim (8th graders) Hebrew musical, Mary Poppins!

As part of full inclusion with the Nivonim (11th graders), two Tikvah campers spend full days and late evenings with Nivo, fully participating in all aspects of the Nivonim schedule, including the in-camp vocational internship and CIT (counselor-in-training) programs. For their Yom Meyuchad, they joined Nivo for the eidah’s annual Yitziyah (field trip) to Eagle River, featuring a scavenger hunt taking them through landmarks, businesses, and outdoor attractions all over the downtown area.

Three of our campers joined Atzmayim on their “day off” on Wednesday. Since participants in the Atzmayim vocational program work each day at a local business in the Eagle River area, they enjoy a weekly day of vacation with their eidah during Yom Meyuchad. Several Tikvah campers participate in a prevocational program, working up to 3 daily hours a day in jobs around camp, including in the kitchen, mailroom, programming office, and art studio. After learning a vocation each day, they were excited to have an adventure in town! Our campers had so much fun visiting the local farmers’ market, a picnic lunch at a public park, go-karting, mini-golf, and, of course, shopping at Wal-Mart.

On days like last Wednesday, our campers split up to experience the range of activities that our eidot offer at camp. Along with our hard-working counselors, Tikvah Director Ralph Schwartz, Tikvah Programmer/Inclusion Coordinator Eric Galante, and I all spent the day running from musical to game show to scavenger hunt to farmers’ market, enjoying every moment of watching our eidah thrive.

On days like this past Sunday, we all come together. The Tikvah eidah presented the “Tikvah Arts Festival”, an annual showcase of visual art projects, dance routines, and a short play developed by campers in both Tikvah and Machon. This year all of our projects revolved around Tikvah’s summer long theme, “Aleinu L’shabeach” – “it is our responsibility to give praise.”  It was beautiful to watch the campers’ hard work come together on stage in front of the eldest eidot in camp.

The visual art group displayed the clay hand prints that they created, and affixed a new coat rack, that they built and painted, at the entrance of our Moadon Tikvah. The dance group expressed the themes of praising, giving, and helping others through movement and song. And the drama group portrayed a humorous and heartwarming story about our ability to elevate others through positive reinforcement. At the end of the arts presentations, all of Tikvah joined together on stage to perform our eidah song and congratulate one another for a job well done.

We are so grateful to our fellow eidot for welcoming us into their eidah communities, and are especially appreciative of the close partnership that we have with Machon, collaborating on projects like the Arts Festival, the Machon/Tikvah chaver (buddy) program, our shared musical, Pippin, and the list goes on. This coming Shabbat the entire eidah of Tikvah will be sharing a combined Shabbat program with the Machon eidah (10th graders), using the “minions” from the cartoon hit “Despicable Me” as a framework for delving into the Jewish proverb, “Chanoch l’naar al pi darko”, “educate a child according to his or her own path.”

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