Jun 21, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara

The First Last Day

Session 1, Day 14

Ranch Camp woke up on Wednesday morning to a bright sky and a cool wind, the sounds of birds in the trees acting as a natural alarm. It was the beginning of a perfect day – and the last full day of Session 1.

Throughout the day, campers took advantage of ample cabin time to pack their bags and trunks and make sure that they still had all of the belongings they came with – but for most, packing was not the first thing on their minds. It might have been the last day, but at Ranch Camp, that doesn’t mean it’s a boring day as well. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

In the morning, campers completed their last activities, each with a special twist to end the session on a high note. Many campers got the opportunity to complete elements on the high ropes course that they hadn’t done yet, and on the archery range kids shot at water balloons to literally end the session with a bang. At chugs in the afternoon, campers had even more time to give everything a shot, as they split into teams for soccer, learned how to make friendship bracelets, or got in the pool one last time.

The activities were not the only exciting parts of the day. Instead of sitting in the Chad for lunch, we had a picnic in the commons, campers able to sit with the friends they had made all over camp. After everyone had eaten their fill of hamburgers and potato chips, we gathered under the porch of the Chad to take an all-camp picture. Unbeknownst to everyone, the EQ (or equestrian program) was hiding in wait on the porch, and moments before the camera clicked, they rushed forward to throw colored powder over the whole camp! The kids were excited by this colorful surprise, and it didn’t take long for a full-on color war to ensue. The next all-camp picture was much more interesting the first, with everyone coated in powder and grinning from ear to ear.

Lunch was not the only meal with a surprise in store – dinner was Hard Rock, a program usually run by the SITs. Named after Hard Rock Café, each session is a different theme, with staff dressing up and putting on a show before a dinner of pizza. This session’s theme was Spongebob. The Chad was decorated as Bikini Bottom, the setting of the popular cartoon, and staff members dressed up as different characters and acted out classic moments from the show.

After dinner, everyone went back to their cabins to change into warm clothes before gathering again at the campfire. This was the second campfire of the session, and was vastly different from the first. While both were full of energy, the energy this time was quieter, something that connected each person to the next, not necessarily seen but definitely felt. Everyone sat on the logs around the fire, arms around each other as the air filled with song, not yet goodbye but the beginning of closure.

The campfire ended, and the camp once again split up into their units – Chalutzim, Metapsim, and Toshavim. Together, each united created their own plaque, an old Ranch Camp tradition that had fallen out of practice many years ago. Now the tradition has returned, with even more meaning – each of the three plaques will go up in each unit’s respective area, with the names of each member of the unit adorning them. This is the first session in which the units were implemented, and the first group of campers to be members of those units. Though they may be leaving Ranch Camp for now, their names will remain, the first in a long line of a new tradition.

In the morning, after a last breakfast of cinnamon rolls, the Session 1 Ranch Camp family gathered in the commons one last time. Arms around each other, swaying back and forth to the music, we sang the songs that are most meaningful to many – “Lean on Me,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and “Olam Chesed.” Looking around the circle, the meaning of the songs became apparent. Though the kids may be leaving camp for now, the community and support that Ranch Camp gives them will stay with them throughout the school year. It’s something that they will always have to lean on, and something that they will always be able to look forward to.

After the closing circle, campers dispersed quickly, some loading buses while others met their parents. Many were tears were shed from campers and staff alike, hesitant to leave the amazing people they have gotten to know over the last two weeks. But there was a bit of happiness too, as everyone knew – this is not goodbye, it’s just “see you later.”