Jul 05, 2019

Posted by: Emily Reilly

The Fourth of July!

Most mornings, upon waking up, the campers know what to expect from the day ahead of them – track activities in the morning, cabin activities and chugim in the afternoon, snacks and cabin time in between. Though the schedule may be the same, every moment holds potential for excitement and new opportunities. Some days, however, vary from the norm. Days like Maccabiah, the all-camp color war, or Israel Day. Most of these camp “holidays” make an appearance every session, but the session two campers are always in for a special treat, as they get to experience an extra special day at camp: the Fourth of July!

Like most days, the morning schedule consisted of tracks activities, breakfast and degel (the opening circle) taking place at the usual time – but the excitement in the air that began building with the sunrise made the morning feel different. Decked out in red, white, and blue, the camp community gathered to begin the celebrations, joining together into some especially rousing renditions of Modeh Ani, Hatikva, and, of course, the Star Spangled Banner. Breakfast reflected the mood of the day, pancakes topped with strawberries, blueberries, and powdered sugar to match the classic American colors.

The real celebrations, however, kicked off at lunch. Many people have traditions on the Fourth of July – perhaps a family camping trip, a barbeque, a trip to see fireworks. Ranch Camp is no different. Every year, the camp gathers on the field next to the pool instead of the Chad (or dining hall) for lunch, the smells of sunscreen and chlorine overpowered by the delicious scent of a classic Fourth of July picnic. Burgers, potato chips, and coleslaw are enjoyed while resting on towels in the shade, happy conversation floating on the breeze. Once they’ve eaten their fill, campers are free to jump in the pool or enjoy the annual camp carnival. Snow cones and cotton candy are a fitting dessert to the nutritious meal, enjoyed in between turns at a blow-up water slide, poses at the photo booth, friendly competition at various games, and a chance to soak counselors at the dunk tank.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky it became obscured by clouds, afternoon storms so reliable here that they are nearly a part of the schedule – but the weather didn’t put a damper on the celebrations, the festivities at the carnival bringing in the true atmosphere of summer. Like the chugim offered most afternoons, campers were free to choose which activities they took part in, but the sense of community that the mingling of age groups and genders brings was felt even more strongly than usual. Instead of splitting into groups for the free choice activities, every person at camp took part in the same activities at once, sharing the joy and enthusiasm that the carnival fostered. By the time it was over, it felt less like a carnival and more like a party, a gathering not of strangers but of friends and family. Bedtime came with the knowledge that the next day would return to the regular camp schedule, but the companionship and cheer fostered in just one afternoon is something that will not fade with the experiences of the days ahead.