Summer Spotlight 2015: Opening Day

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The opening day of the URJ’s camps and Israel programs is the most anticipated day of the year. Parents line the roads and participants board planes, ready and eager to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Whether it’s the first or fourteenth summer, everyone starts at the same place – b’reishit (in the beginning).

Now that the countdown clocks have run out, relive the excitement that was…
Opening Day 2015!

 



Entering the Gates: “Welcome Home” 

 

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Cars Line the Road Outside URJ Jacobs Camp

Every staff member is filled with unique energy. A URJ 6 Points Sports Academy staff member explains some of the thoughts running through the heads of counselors on the busy day.

As the gates open, camp directors have high hopes that a year of planning, organizing, fundraising, coordinating, and training will result in the best summer yet. The director of URJ 6 Points Sports Academy shares his aspirations for the summer in anticipation of the arrival of campers.

At URJ Crane Lake Camp, excitement abounded as campers began to fill the grounds for the first time all year:

Watch staff members at URJ Kutz Camp share their excitement for the big day across camp.

While the staff finish training and planning, participants and their families prepare to start their summer.

NFTY in Israel’s Group 3, Ready to be Welcomed in Prague

NFTY in Israel’s Group 3, Ready to be Welcomed in Prague

Waiting to drive through the gates, campers at URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp explain why they are excited to come to camp.

Parents are grateful to send their children to camp for countless reasons. In addition to having a temporary empty nest for the summer, one parent of a camper at URJ Eisner Camp  feels lucky to have children that know how to live “in the present.”

 


 


Day in Review: New Beginnings and Familiar Faces

 

Once the flights land, the buses  drive away, and the parents head home, the summer officially starts. Counselors and staff lead new bunks and groups in bonding games and activities that help old friends meet new ones.

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Bunk Bonding at Kalsman

The magic of Opening Day is due in part to the smiles, silly name games, and first interactions.

Butterflies eventually settle as bunkmates transform from strangers to new friends.

Participants can unplug and immerse themselves in their surroundings, familiar or not.

George Opening Day

George Opening Day

At URJ 6 Points Sci Tech this year, counselors and staff welcomed nearly double the number of first-session campers as it did during the camp’s first summer. The day was filled with enthusiastic counselors, building challenges, and decorating of DNA sculptures with personalized Jewish values.

In Massachusetts, campers and staff celebrated the beginning of URJ Crane Lake Camp’s chai (18th) summer with songs, laughs, and new rituals.

 


The best part of Opening Day is that is it can happen more than once. In Wisconsin, URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) had a successful opening to their second session, regardless of the rain.

At URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, second-session campers old and new were excited to participate in their favorite activities:

The energy, excitement, and activities of the  first Opening Day of the summer are perfected the second time around. As captured in URJ Camp Coleman‘s  video, the ruach (spirit) is high:

 

 


Programs 

NFTY in Israel’s Group 8 meets their staff before starting on an unforgettable adventure.

NFTY in Israel’s Group 8 meets their staff before starting on an unforgettable adventure.

In addition to the start of overnight camps, North American Jewish teens started adventures around the world- in locations like Israel, Prague, Poland, New Orleans, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and beyond.

 



A Day in Review 

By the end of the day, the summer has officially begun, but the magic certainly hasn’t worn off.

Anna Blumenfeld Herman, director of URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, writes, “After months of waiting, the HSJ campgrounds finally look as they are meant to… full of campers and staff sharing in amazing experiences and creating memories!”

Watch how campers and participants are “welcomed home” during the most exciting event of the year: