Jewish Camps USA

B’nai B’rith Camp (Oregon) – Alex Parker

After 15 hours of travelling, I arrived at BB camp in the pitch black delirious, not knowing who anyone was and where on earth to go.

But after 4 weeks at BB camp, I feel like it is my second home. The fact that BB camp is a small camp compared to others means that I made friends with all the staff instantly and can probably name everyone. The leadership team are also so approachable and will always help with any problems that arise, especially my unit head Marshall. BB camp includes staff from all over the world including countries like Ireland, Holland, Israel, Australia and of course America and England.

Staff week was a blast, it was a week full of activities that brought me closer to my fellow staff members and also helped me to get (slightly) prepared for when my campers arrived The highlight of staff week was definitely a sunset hike in the mountains followed by s’mores and songs by a camp fire on the beach.

It still feels surreal being a BB camp. I still remember my interview with Ben/Chuck (the associate camp director) back in December, and here I am now in my 5th and 6th grade cabin writing this blog. A typical day at BB consists of degel/flag followed by breakfast and then activities such as zip line, tubing, swimming or athletics. Campers also have the opportunity to learn a specific skill in “Skill Builders” such as life guarding and wacky science, which I lead. There is also plenty of free time which allows campers to do an activity of their choice. At the end of day the whole camp comes together and forms a friendship circle, we sing “Shalom Chaverim/Hello friends”. It is such a nice way to end the day.

Shabbat at BB camp is something very special. It starts with the “Shabbat walk” where every single person on camp hugs and wishes Shabbat shalom to each other. This tradition really makes everyone feel part of the BB camp family and get in the spirit of Shabbat. Services by the lake and a banquet style meal then follow this. After dinner, Shabbat song session and Israeli dancing takes place. Everyone gets super sweaty, but this is definitely one of the highlights of the week for myself and many of the campers.

Myself and my fellow JCUSA staff: Daniella, Hayley, Henry, Alex L, Emma and Lucy have been trying to bring a British twist to camp. Recently, we led a British song session with classics from Jessie J, Busted and S Club 7 – the campers loved it! Alex L is also leading a Shabbat service this week.

Just yesterday was Maccabiah, a day filled with competitions such as Gaga tournaments, staff skits and the famous “Apache relay”, which finishes with a pie eating contest. Everyone gets dressed up in their assigned team colour and chants for their team. My team was the Gold team and although we tried our best, we didn’t win! The ruach is so high throughout the day, except for the “silent lunch”, which has been my favourite meal so far as none of the campers can speak. Overall it has been one of the best days at camp so far!

Days off at BB camp are so good. The location of BB camp means that’s it is only 5 minutes away from the beach, so renting a beach front house is so easy.

I realise now how fast first session has gone, with just 2 days remaining. I now know that at I need to cherish every day here at BB Camp as before I know it I will be flying back home.

It’s now 2:30am and one of my campers is snoring really loudly, so I’m going to sign off now, but here’s to new friendships, memories and to (probably) next year at BB camp.