A Taste of Camp

Campers Report on Taste of Camp

Taste of Camp is the best summer treat! “You’re so lucky to be here for 10 weeks. I wish I could do that!” B-7 camper Naveen told his counselor. 

It’s hard to believe the session is almost over, and even with today being the last full day of programming, there’s still a lot of fun in store. Tonight is our delicious banquet dinner with roast turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, before our closing campfire where each cabin will show off their bunk cheers they’ve been practicing all week. 

Taste campers have spent the past week bonding with their bunkmates, roasting s’mores, crafting, singing, dancing, hiking, stargazing and so much more. Ultimately, every camper immersed in the Tawonga mission: growing their self esteem, connecting to cooperative community, strengthening their Jewish identities and fostering a partnership with nature.

All Taste campers participated in Jewish learning and reflection during “Ruach (spirit) Hour,” led by our Director of Jewish Programming, Gavin. The theme of Ruach Hour was Shabbat: the journey we go on together during Shabbat, the blessings and traditions involved and the gratitude we can express during this time. We talked about how campers might be able to take some of these ideas home with them, or as we call it, “Taking Tawonga home.” 

Campers also discussed what being Jewish means to them; some shared about the culture and food; others reflected on being proud of being Jewish. Ruach Hour is one of the many ways campers are able to explore and reflect upon their sense of spirituality and connection to Judaism during the session. 

All session long, campers connected to nature! In addition to living in the tall, tall trees on our 160-acre property nestled on the peaceful Tuolumne River, every camper ventured on a day hike this week. Our younger campers explored river spots on our property, like Ladybug Cove and Secret Beach; meanwhile our older campers took off to destinations like Carlon Falls in Stanislaus National Forest and Lake Eleanor in the Yosemite wilderness. 

Throughout their day, campers traveled with their bunk groups of a dozen kids, emphasizing our bunk-centric approach of supportive, cooperative family-like units. Campers often leave Tawonga with increased confidence and independence as a result of being immersed in such a loving culture with supportive counselors, who encourage campers to discover the best versions of themselves. 

Floats is an opportunity for campers to flex that independence, “floating” around Camp to revisit activities they enjoyed with their bunks. To ease into this experience, Taste campers first joined Partner Floats earlier in the week for a gentle introduction to the experience. Floats highlights ranged from jam sessions on the back porch with our songleaders, to paddle boating, crafting at A&C and cooling off in the pool. 

“I loved Floats because I got to go frog catching and swimming, and I liked that I got to do what I wanted to while hanging out with my partner,” shared Madelyn in G-5.

From splashing around in our Olympic-sized pool and “getting gnarley” with body paint to tie-dying at Arts & Crafts and feeding the goats on our farm while saying hello to our pigs (recently named Benjamin Franklin and Uncle Oinks), campers have really done it all!

Whether in the water or on land, campers always have a good time cracking jokes and sharing stories. The willow trees between the Camp farm and the garden are a popular spot for bonding. This week campers have sung madlibbed songs, water colored, and made friendship bracelets and lasting friendships under the shady green leaves.

“A special moment from this week is this one right now! Watercoloring at the Willows is so calming — this is my happy place,” said Tela in G-3.

Speaking of happy places, Tawonga is a home away from home for many in the Camp T community. With more than half of Taste of Camp campers being first-time Tawongans, this week is a very special introduction.

“The only issue with Camp Tawonga is that you can’t be here the whole summer,” Dash in B-1.

This group of campers has been an absolute delight, and we hope they come back to make more memories in future summers. During longer sessions they will have opportunities to celebrate Shabbat in community, explore on backingpacking overnight trips in the surrounding wilderness, experience challenge by choice on the Challenge Course and spend more time in this beautiful, loving community!

P.S. Check out highlights from the session in our Taste of Camp reel.