Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sara's Dad's Post

Shalom Gilboa!

It rarely happens that a parent gets to spend a few hours with us during a regular day at camp. This winter, Sara's dad had to pick her up for a Bat-Mitzvah, and got to see Gilboa in action. I asked him to write about what he saw, and here it is:

My friend Ron and I set out from West LA on Friday morning around 7:15 for Angelus Oaks. We feared the worst--a long, traffic-ridden, snow-filled, chains-on-tires drive that would try my patience and technical skills. What a pleasant surprise it was then when two hours and fifteen minutes later--after an effortless, chain-free ride-- we pulled into a parking spot at Alpine Meadows, where the Gilboa winter game was located. Our mission was to pick up my daughter, Sara, and return before Shabbat to join in the bat-mitzvah of a dear family friend.

The even greater surprise was what we discovered when we walked into the chadar ochel (dining hall). The room was bursting with energy, enthusiasm, and above all, fun. I've been hearing for almost thirty years from my wife, a second-generation Habonimnik (Workshop 29), about how special and intense the fun is at Habonim camp. But I had never really seen it up close. In fact, our daughter Sara was having so much fun at winter camp that part of her really wanted to stay rather than come home. As a compromise, we hung around for another hour during which time we got a chance to see what was going on.

As I reflected on it on the drive back, there were three aspects of the particular kind of fun at Habonim that seem unique. First, Habonim is a youth movement, where youth lead youth. How rare is it in our day and age, of constantly hovering Helicopter Parents, to have kids leading, learning from, and living with other kids! It was beautiful to see high-school age madrichim (counselors) interacting so naturally and playfully with their chanichim (campers).

Second, kids, and especially the teenagers there, were remarkably free of inhibitions. We happened to show up on a regular old Friday morning for breakfast, and what we witnessed was a series of spontaneous, goofy, and hilarious skits, songs, and chants that engaged everyone in camp, from the youngest to the oldest. No social tension, no awkwardness, no exclusion. We were left to ask ourselves: does this happen every day, at every meal? Third, there seemed to be a glorious lack of concern about structured time. In this day and age, kids often need their own personal assistants to arrange their schedules. But not here. Breakfast slowly stretched into hitamlut boker, a time for physical exercise, but actually an opportunity to bust out the dancing--at 10am in morning! Kids young and old joined in, gleefully and, again, without inhibition. After about a half-hour of dancing and hanging out, we packed up Sara and headed back home. She was sad to leave, but proud to have made new friends, learned new songs and games, and been part of the special experience that her mother has spoken of so often and with such fondness. It was incredible to see first-hand.

David Myers (father of Sara Stolzenberg-Myers, husband of Nomi Stolzenberg).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shalom Gilboa Families

We are finishing our Shabbat up here at Machaneh Choref and getting ready to head home tomorrow.

We started our Shabbat on Friday afternoon with a long chofesh (free time) with tzrif (cabin) cleaning, showering, and musical jamming. All nice and clean we gathered for Hatikva and broke into our mishpachot (families) by ezor (region) to share our experiences from the last days. Kabbalat Shabbat is a wonderful time at machaneh, and this winter is no exception. Gilboa’s never seen such explosive ruach (spirit) during Shabbat shira (singing), and the rikud (Israeli dancing) went on for hours.

Shabbat morning in Gilboa is a peaceful time for chanichim (campers) to play board games, read books, and rest. After a late breakfast, a fast-forward skit of the life of Moses presented our torah portion discussion of the week. Chugim (interest groups) followed, and chanichim could choose between fun ones like Snoccer (soccer in the snow), music, or more serious discussion groups.

After lunch and Hyde Park, where every chanich has an opportunity to speak and be heard by everyone at Gilboa, chanichim brought their bags into the chadar ochel (dining hall) in preparation for tomorrow’s early departure. As chanichim were preparing their musical acts and skits for the evening performances, we learned of a potential power outage due to a problem with the generator. We decided to have a big sleepover in the MLC, a large carpeted room adjacent to the dining hall, for safety. Everyone brought in their sleeping bags and made themselves cozy. The evening brought us to Musical, where chanichim shared their talents in music, singing, drama, and poetry. We ended the evening with a kumzitz around the fireplace and ice cream. The problem with the generator was fixed later in the evening, and younger chanichim are now going to sleep to the sounds of guitars and older chanichim singing around the fireplace.

It was an amazing Machaneh Choref from beginning to end, full of snow and inspiration. Thank you Gilboa families for sending your kids to us for this week. They really are amazing, and without them it would just be a bunch of snow and bored madrichim.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Machaneh Choref is going great!

Shalom Gilboa Families

We have been having an amazing time the past few days up here at Machaneh Choref, packed with snowy fun and inspiring activities.

Going with the theme of Melting Apathy, we had an amazing peula broken up into age groups where we discussed Tikkun Olam as Jewish resistance to apathy. Each age group had a separate age appropriate activity to explore and discuss this concept from many different angles. The climax came with a tekkes (ceremony) with the whole machaneh, where each kvutzah came together to rally around a common cause and vow to take action to repair this world as Jews, as youths, and as members of Habonim Dror. It was a powerful tekkes for everyone involved, and incredibly inspiring for the chanichim. They engaged in social issues and discussed how to take action and not be apathetic, they are an amazing groups of kids.

Fortunately, the storm passed and left a ton of snow. We have had blue skies, and warm sunshine the last few days, making machaneh gorgeous, and perfect conditions for sledding- which we have been doing a lot! Check out the pictures.

The other night we relaxed with hot coco and cookies and watched the Disney film “Up” all together. The film is great and loaded with deeper meaning of taking ownership over ones life and acting to fulfill ones dreams. Everyone enjoyed.

We have been having many dance parties and energy is high and good. We are all very much looking forward to a Gilboa Shabbat, always a highlight of machaneh.

Expect an email with more information about return home on Sunday. Until then, Shabbat Shalom and much love from Machaneh Choref and all the Gilboa chanichim and madrichim.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yesterday camp had lots of fresh snow. Today the sun came out and it was a great opportunity to play in the snow. Here is a set of pictures that show how fun it is.

You can view and download the full set of hi-res pictures also thru picasa with this link
( or copy and paste this to your browser in case the link doesn't work: )

Zman Sheleg (Snow Time)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Machaneh Choref (winter camp) 2010

Shalom Gilboa Families,

We are all here safe and sound with lots and lots of snow! It started snowing the day we arrived and hasn’t stopped. Lots of snowmen, snowball fights and beautiful scenery for us.

Yesterday we all arrived to a hot pizza lunch and soft snow falling. The day continued with orientation, and tochnit erev (evening program). The theme of this machaneh choref (winter camp) is “Snow What? – Melting Apathy”, with several activities throughout the week dedicated to talking about apathy, the role it plays in our lives, and how we can step out of it and engage both locally and globally. Last night’s tochnit erev consisted of the chanichim (campers) working through a series of fun challenges to free the madrichim (counselors) from the spell of Mr. Apathy, and imprisoning him for the rest of machaneh.

We woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow and made the most of it with a machaneh wide game of snow capture the flag/ snowball fight on the sports field. After taking a camp picture we continued our focus on the machaneh theme with a machaneh wide peula (activity). In three different stations chanichim explored the three ingredients of apathy: fear, ignorance, and privilege. In the Privilege Station different groups received different quantities of cookies, and had to explore how this affected them personally, as a part of a group, and the relationships between the groups. At the Ignorance Station each person received an ingredient, without knowledge of what other chanichim received, and had to figure out a way to build a gingerbread house. They had to overcome the barrier in order to cooperate and manage to build it together. A game of tag emphasized overcoming fear in order to create a functioning society. Experiencing these concepts and how they exist in the world was incredibly powerful and interesting for everyone, and lots of conversations followed.

In the afternoon chanichim engaged in chugim (interest groups) ranging from dance, drama, board games, and more. Dinner is soon to follow.

Much love.

Machaneh Gilboa