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A Day at Camp Shalom

February 20, 2017 By Greg Wolf

A Day at Camp Shalom

The whispers fly back and forth across the cabin minutes before the morning wake-up call echoes throughout Camp Shalom’s cabins. The whispers grow louder as the entire camp flocks together to the dining hall, ready to start a day that that can have a camper water skiing at one moment, and gliding down a zip line the next. As a staff member who grew up within the tree lines of Camp Shalom since I was 9 years old, it is easy to see that each day spent at camp is incredibly special in its own way.

One of my fondest memories of being a camper and working on staff is seeing the cabin come together as one unit right from the start of the day. Whether it’s tidying up the cabin or standing hand in hand as the flag is raised, the cabin operates as one family. With intramural games for the boy’s side of camp happening early in the day, I grab my whistle along with the other male counselors and officiate the games as the boys (and some girls!) compete in different sports daily. It may be basketball on Monday, but Tuesday-Sunday could bring anything from softball, flag football, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, or even volleyball for the campers to play. At camp there is no shortage of competition, but when competition is dominated by laughter and an acceptance for all types of skill levels, it gives campers an incredible boost of confidence and self-worth. They can truly be themselves because fun is the name of the game! When all teams shake hands and the games are over, the cabin quickly gets ready to cool off by hanging out in the pool or heading down to the lake for watersports. We do everything we can to make the most out of every day at camp, because time really does fly when you’re having a blast!

Lunch is served and the counselors bring bowl after bowl of Chef Clarence’s afternoon meal to the table. Meals are served “family-style”, as the campers pass the food around the table for everyone to get plenty of the meal. Lunch leads into rest hour, where us counselors get a front row seat to bunk-wide card games and chatter of the latest news around the Camp Shalom water cooler. The central Florida heat is piercing around these hours, but the cool air conditioning within the cabins provides for an hour and a half of rest and re-charge for the second half of the day’s events.

The loud speakers blare throughout the camp once more and option hour begins, where campers have the choice of picking from between 10-12 different activities. Counselors with specific skill sets are in charge of biking, basketball, art, drama and cooking just to name a few, and it provides the campers with a sense of individuality because they have the freedom to choose what they would like to do; it’s all up to them. With two activities left before dinner, it’s almost time for my favorite activity of the day: club hour. Last summer I taught the Wilderness club, a new club at camp that involved nature hikes, learning how to build a fire, roasting marshmallows, and teaming up to build the best structure using only what you can find outdoors. In today’s technology and social media-driven world it is easy to get caught up looking at a screen all day. However, these campers did not think twice about wanting a screen once they built their first fire with me…their excitement was more fulfilling than any day I’ve had before at Camp Shalom. Even though all of the day time activities have ended and dinner time approaches, the sun is still in the sky, and the day at Camp Shalom continues on. An evening activity is planned for all bunks to participate in and my cabin has one last chance to cheer, holler, and play together before evening curfew.

Exhausted from a full day of non-stop fun, the campers digress and hangout together with their on-duty counselor until the lights go out and the flashlights turn on. As the last shadow puppets slowly fade away, the chatter turns to whispers, and the whispers turn to snores. Another day at Camp Shalom has come and gone, and a beautiful sunrise over the lake is only a few hours away.

 

 

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