Friday, July 23rd 2021
It has been another wonderful week at Camp Hatikvah filled with joy and laughter all around.
In planning for the summer, we knew that we were going to have to adapt our program in numerous ways due to COVID. We were, however, determined not to let this impact the experiences our campers have come to expect. One example of this is our annual SIT ‘field trip’ to Enderby for a river float experience. Unable to take our campers there this summer, we decided to make our own river float experience right here on our beautiful lake. The idea was fun and creative and all of the campers really appreciated the effort made by their staff to turn “lemons into lemonade”.
As Session A started to wind down, the campers strove to make the best of their last few days here. They ran, swam, jumped and played. It was a pleasure to watch them savour their time and eachother. We are so proud of them for the way they adapted to the changes that needed to be made this summer; they were true stars! We are delighted that they got to try new things and hone their skills all while learning how to be a part of a community.
On Tuesday night we held our Final Banquet for our Session A campers. The theme was “The Hatikvah Music Awards” and staff dressed up like famous singers and did some amazing performances for the kids. We then held an awards ceremony, watched the end of session slide show, had a dance and then headed to final mifkad where there were some emotional moments. Session A was absolutely too short but we remind ourselves daily how grateful we are that the kids got to be here at all this summer. We want to take this opportunity to thank our campers, parents, donors and community for making this possible.
On Wednesday, we said goodbye to our Session A campers and then quickly started preparing for the arrival of our Session B kids. Camp was scrubbed down and our counsellors got their new cabin assignments. It felt like no time at all before the next crew of campers rolled into camp around noon on Thursday. Despite many of them being first-time campers, they got right to work having fun. Each group visited each dock and are already very well immersed in our program.
Most of the campers this session are significantly younger than those who attended Session A. This is highlighted in the fact that one of our Giborim cabins woke their staff up at 4:45 am as they were all ready and excited to start their day. Who can blame them? Camp Hatikvah is a pretty special place and these campers clearly want to take advantage of every second of time they will get to spend here.
Friday, July 16th 2021
It has been a sensational – and busy – week at Hatikvah.
On Saturday, our campers (and counsellors) had a little shabbat sleep-in followed by a delicious cinnamon bun breakfast. From there, the camp gathered together at the Sara Stern Amphitheatre for shabbat prayers before heading off to the waterfront to enjoy the spectacular weather.
After the Saturday night BBQ, the counsellors announced that it was MACCABIAH. The campers were broken up into the following three teams: “Mitzvot” (red), “Tzedakah” (blue) and “Halakha” (white) and jumped right into enjoying a little healthy competition. Though Maccabiah had to be shortened, we were able to do most of the traditional activities including the maccabathon, dock events and even an outdoor “popcornathon” and “danceathon”. It was amazing to watch the campers have an opportunity to both show off their existing skills and learn some new ones.
We’ve celebrated a lot of birthdays this week and so there has been a lot of ‘pies in the face’. Poor Jacob Lokash, our SIT unit head, has been the recipient of almost all of them. Thank you to Jacob for being such a great sport.
Kochot and SITs both got to play in special camp additions of popular TV shows this week. The Kochot campers did “Survivor” to see who could outsmart, outplay and outlast everyone. The SITS played the “Amazing Race” where they ran around camp doing special challenges. Both activities give campers the opportunity to work their mind and body and were sincerely enjoyed by the participants.
This week’s evening programs were super fun and creative. Gesher’s favourite was definitely a paint addition of “Capture the Flag” while the Kochot kids really enjoyed a special luau (minus the pig) at the U-Dock Beach. Our SITs really loved doing a man-tracker program in the dark but the highlight for them this week was a special bike trip we took them on almost all the way to Vernon. It was serene and just a lovely group activity.
With camp having had to be shortened this year, we are doing our best to pack in as much fun as possible. The kids are doing an amazing job of really appreciating and taking advantage of their time here. Seeing them so engaged and happy is a true joy.
Tonight is Shabbat and, as usual, we will be gathering together for prayers and rikud (dancing). However, we have an extra special surprise planned for after dinner. Due to COVID, we know that many of our campers never got to be properly celebrated for becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. With this in mind, tonight we will celebrate our Grade 8’s (and a few Grade 6 girls) on the (outdoor) dance floor. Those who did not get to be encircled by their loved ones in person at a simcha will be given that opportunity this evening. We are tearing up just thinking about the entire camp doing the horah around these campers and look forward to sharing photos with you of this beautiful moment in the days ahead.
Friday, July 9th 2021
It feels good to be home.
On Sunday, we were delighted to welcome our first group of campers back to our site in 22 months. It was the moment we have all been waiting for - and fought so hard for - and we want to start off this week's shabbat message with a short video thanking the people who have made this summer possible.
Despite not operating for close to two years, our campers quickly fell into old routines upon arrival. After meeting their counsellors and unpacking, campers headed strait down to the docks to do their safety tests and cool off. Given the high temperatures in late June, the campers were thrilled to find that our lake is much warmer than it usually is this time of year. At the A-Dock, they were also ecstatic to see a whole bunch of new inflatable water toys purchased in late 2019 with money raised in that year's annual campaign. Because the pandemic hit in March, we never even had the chance to unveil these new toys to the community and so we were excited to be able to do so as a surprise to our first group of campers upon arrival.
Campers were also struck by all of the COVID related upgrades to our site. With the help of generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation we have created several new outdoor spaces for programming this summer. We now have outdoor lounges in the SIT site, the Kochot site and a new outdoor arts & crafts centre and staff lounge. In addition, we have an outdoor space for medical care next to the infirmary. The new areas are shaded, comfortable and an amazing upgrade to our site (perhaps one of the few positive things to come out of COVID).
On Sunday evening, our campers headed to opening mifkad where we officially welcomed in our 2021 season. Those of you familiar with our routines know that we always end mifkad with the words "Chazak Ve'ematz" which in english means "with strength and courage". After the 16 months we have just had, no other words could better reflect the way in which our campers have handled themselves throughout this pandemic. It was, therefore, hard not to become overwhelmed with emotion when seeing them all gathered together again exactly where they should be. They got through this. Our camp got through this. And now it is time to celebrate life and our beautiful community.
Campers were delighted to find that despite the ongoing pandemic, camp felt pretty normal. With everyone at camp having tested negative for COVID prior to arrival (thank you to our 2021 campaign donors who covered the costs of these tests), campers could engage in programming with limited restrictions when outdoors. And as you can see from the photos below, they got right to work having fun.
The one area where campers can't help but notice some COVID restrictions is in our chadar (dining hall). With government rules mandating that each table needs to be 6 feet apart, we are now operating each meal in 4 different shifts. We are also now serving the campers "cafeteria style" on biodegradable plates. This new system has meant a lot of adjustment to our normal routines but we are getting the hang of it. We are pleased to state, however, that the food this year is better than ever.
The HFL is in full swing to the absolute delight of all of the campers. It is truly wonderful to see the kids participating in enriching competition where they learn good sportsmanship and how to be a part of a team.
Last night, our Gesher campers participated in a program about kindness and the values that they feel are most important to emulate as a member of cabin. Kochot and SIT campers enjoyed our annual "Coachella" night.
Today campers woke up to learn that it was "Yom Israel" and that they would be spending the day visiting the "Dead Sea", attending Tzahal training and learning about Israeli history and culture. It was an enjoyable day that has culminated in camp coming together for an outdoor Oneg Shabbat where they will do prayers led by our SIT campers who have also written a beautiful d'var torah. Tonight the campers will also enjoy an outdoor rikud (dance) session in the Arena.
While our campers and counsellors have always loved and appreciated camp, it is clear to us that this summer is going to be particularly meaningful to them (and us). It is our true privilege to be able to provide this experience to them. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.
Camp Hatikvah always relies heavily on donor support but this year we truly could not have opened without the generosity of our community.
Having had to reduce capacity and shorten sessions due to COVID protocols, our camp has seen a reduction in camper fee revenue of about 30%. Our expenses, however, have skyrocketed for things like testing, single serve food items like juice boxes, touchless water fountains and significantly enhanced cleaning protocols. In addition, having not opened camp in two years, we are finding that many things are requiring significant (and expensive) repair.
Donor support is fully subsidizing our entire operation this summer. Unlike in normal years where donations are used for capital projects and program improvements, this year donors are covering our most basic of expenses to ensure that we are simply able to operate. The passion and strength of our community has never been more evident to us and we have never been more grateful.