It’s hard to believe our Taste of Camp campers are boarding the buses to return home tomorrow – we’re going to miss them! Campers really have gotten a taste of Tawonga this week, from spending time at A&C (arts and crafts) doing tie dye and making shrinky dinks, to exploring the great outdoors with our wilderness staff on day hikes, to getting “gnarly” with their bunks – a uniquely Tawonga activity where kids get to express themselves in a whole new way.
This afternoon, campers had the opportunity to experience “Floats” – which, in a week filled with scheduled bunk activities, offers campers the time to do exactly what this beloved block is named for: to float around the areas of Camp they love!
Floats is a unique time, when campers can visit an area of Camp they haven’t explored yet, or revisit a program or place that they loved. During Floats, specialist staff lead different kinds of activities, including drama games, boating on the lake, candle-making or other projects at A&C, or games like soccer.
Campers can participate in floats solo, with friends from their cabin, or with friends from other cabins – it’s an exercise in independence! They also get to choose from a variety of Floats activities. On Tuesday, campers took part in “Partner Floats” with a designated buddy to ease into the great independence of this activity.
During this time, campers may feel more of a sense of freedom to explore the many aspects of what Camp Tawonga can offer, and perhaps a greater sense of independence as they make the choice of how to spend this time and with whom. This is also aligned with the first rung of our mission, to build self esteem in campers, which is particularly relevant following the past few years our families have experienced amidst the pandemic, excessive screen time and uncertainty.
Over the course of this week, we’ve seen immense growth in these campers – many of whom are brand new to Tawonga and our loving Jewish community.
Tonight, campers will feast on our final dinner of the session: Banquet! Just for fun, we do a Thanksgiving-style meal in the summer to send off our campers in style. It’s always a hit!
Tomorrow morning, campers will say their goodbyes to our staff and many new-found friends whom they’ve grown fond of during the week. Campers will be treated to a final breakfast and a ruach-filled song session in the Dining Hall.
We’re big on rituals (in case that wasn’t clear), and end-of-session rituals tomorrow will include sharing Memory Sheets to reminisce over A Taste of Camp highlights, singing “Leaving on a Jet Bus” (Tawonga’s farewell classic, a take on “Leaving on a Jet Plane”) and walking through the “Tunnel of Love” formed by staff lining the path to the buses.
We hope that the campers are inspired by their experiences and choose in future years to return to Tawonga for longer sessions, which include overnight backpacking trips, Shabbat celebrations and more. It has been such a joy to spend this week with our campers. We sincerely hope to see them back here next summer and to stay in touch throughout the year!