BBYO Summer Blog
Settling in at Kallah
Posted on 07/12/2012 @ 05:07 PM
"Alana Kessler is alive and well!" Lindsey Block was thrilled to see her friend upon arriving at Camp Perlman this afternoon and ran to hug her amidst the piles of suitcases and sleeping bags. The Leadership village was a flurry of activity and excitement this afternoon, as old friends rushed to meet each other and new friends met for the first time.
Even the staff was excited for the start of Kallah 2012. "It's great!" Ian Kandel exclaimed while overseeing the melee. The first day of camp is always full of activity, from the minute teens arrive until they finally settle into their bunks. Between the official introduction to camp, the cookout for dinner, and the evening's activity (exploring the meanings of their names and cultural identities), they hardly had a moment to rest.
Not every activity of the day was thrilling, however. Andrew Hartstein and Ben Koby even composed a haiku in line during lice check which they were eager to include in today's blog post.
"Ben and Andrew say
On the hot summer sidewalk
Lice checks suck a lot."
(A friend nearby tried to correct them, as they were actually on a lawn rather than a sidewalk, but he was promptly shushed. Ben and Andrew are clearly sticklers for keeping the proper number of syllables in their impromptu haikus.)
Trust the teens of Kallah to inject creativity and humor into even the most mundane camp moment. These young people are clearly some of the best and brightest, and thanks to them it looks like Kallah 2012 is shaping up to be wonderful already. Vlad Gutso travelled over 6000 miles from the Ukraine to attend Kallah and arrived energetic and ready to get the most out of his three week experience. When asked about his journey, he seemed completely unfazed by all the new people he was getting to know. "New meetings are good," he said with a grin, ready to socialize with his fellow campers.
"I'm so happy to be here!" Alana Kessler was overflowing with enthusiasm. "It feels unreal! I'm so happy to spend the next three weeks with my best friends!"
She seemed to speak for everyone, as the mood of the entire camp was celebratory and upbeat today. Asked to describe her mood in a single word, Melissa Raudt paused a moment to think and then smiled. "Jubilant."
A good word for a good day; Kallah 2012 has begun.
Welcome to Kallah 2012
Posted on 07/12/2012 @ 12:12 PM
Our Kallah Coordinators, Allison and Jake welcome our participants to Kallah 2012. We're looking forward to an incredible three weeks!
Allison and Jake's Kallah Adventure
Kallah 2011 Wrap Up
Posted on 07/30/2011 @ 07:00 AM
As we pack our bags and clean the dorms for the last time, it is apparent that emotional ties to Kallah run deep. We have all become so accustomed to life here that the switch back home will be as weird as arriving here so long ago. There is no denying, however, that everyone has come a long way in this time. We have all tried new things and engaged in meaningful experiences, as well as making friendship ties that will last a lifetime.
We have taken classes and explored our Judaism, questioned our values, and studied our past. We visited places like Morasha and learned about all the different ways of practicing Judaism. We had an intense and competitive color war, learned about wizards and witches at Harry Potter, and bonded with our dorms through late night activities.
The way everyone here has progressed through this time has truly been spectacular. We as a Kallah team hope everyone has gained from their experiences and will be able to join their home communities and to practice their Judaism with pride and in an enhanced manor.
The friendships that were made will last a lifetime and the memories will last just as long. The participants are all packed and ready to depart tomorrow morning and will be saying their sad goodbyes in just a few hours as they get on the buses to go home. We hope everyone had a great time at Kallah 2011!
Week 2 Comes to a Close
Posted on 07/24/2011 @ 11:00 PM
We started our weekend off with a truly incredible Shabbat experience, including a service by the lake, a traditional Carlebach style experience, and a meditation service that received tremendous reviews. All of our participants were set to have a restful, meaningful Shabbat.
We relaxed through the day on Saturday and closed out our Shabbat with an amazing panel discussion, first with our educators and then our specialist staff and Madrichim. The questions teens were asking were thoughtful and thought-provoking. I was asked about my belief in the world to come, in piercings (turns out my choices come from a fear of needles more than anything else), and what I feel is the most important part of Judaism to pass on to future generations, among other things. Our teens also asked our other staff about Jewish life on campus and about their encounters with Anti-Semitism.
After the panel, we transitioned into a new week with a beautiful Havdallah ceremony out on the field. Participants sat down for a program about mysticism and magic, which looked at some crazy texts from our sages about witches, spells and more. After participants started sharing their views, our coordinators ran into the room shouting things like "expelliarmus" and "imperio" - turns out that we had rented out a whole theater to take participants to a late-night screening of Harry Potter! Surprise! Needless to say, they were pretty excited about it. We're hoping to upload the video of the reaction soon, because it was pretty overwhelming.
After a late start on Sunday (we only got back to camp at 1:15am!), we had a great day of learning and moved in to our evening program, the second exchange with the teens from Camp Morasha and Camp Mesora. We had singing and dancing - of which there are some incredible photos, participants cheered and sang songs together, played some frisbee and basketball and we ended the evening with a lot of promises to keep in touch post-camp. Many participants said this was one of the most meaningful Jewish experiences they've had, and I am just so grateful that we got to be a part of it.
Overall, our weekend was pretty exceptional and we've got a whole week of amazing opportunities lined up as we move into our final days (already?!) of Kallah. We look forward to telling you all about them soon!
Kallah, from an Educator's Point of View
Posted on 07/22/2011 @ 07:00 AM
It is unique to wake up every day and work in the company of kind, educated and talented individuals. As a new member of the specialist team at Kallah and a first time BBYO employee, I am thrilled to be here. Week two of KALLAH 2011 started off on an excellent foot with enthusiastic trips to the town of Woodbourne, NY and a visit to Camp Morasha. The teens openly engaged with their orthodox peers, grappling with difficult and relevant issues. This week also marks the beginning of the specialists' specialty series. Each camper can choose three specialty electives in which they'd like to participate. I had a terrific group of kids today who were eager to explore, listen and create theatre. Working within a very specific set of rules, I divided them into smaller groups of five and asked them to create a snapshot montage of a story about Love, Loss and Reunion. The compositions were diverse and compelling. I have no doubt that tomorrow, their longer and more complex compositions will be equally entertaining. At the close of the day I had the opportunity to sit in on a Shabbat planning session. Some of the kids expressed an interest in hosting a more traditional style Torah service, while others were more drawn to an abstract approach. I offered up the medium of Dance midrash as a gateway to exploring the larger ideas in the Parsha without losing the Hebrew text. Whatever the group decides, their commitment will be wholehearted and their experience will be meaningful. These are just some of the wonderful things happening at Kallah today that I have had the occasion to witness. BBYO veterans surround me here and will casually remark that this general 'awesomeness' floating around in the air is nothing new. I still believe that it is unique to wake up every day and work in the company of kind, educated and talented individuals.
By Valerie Issembert, Drama Instructor