Jul 12, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara

The Last First Day

Session 3, Day 1

It has been many weeks since the metal gate that marks the entrance to JCC Ranch Camp swung open for the first time, welcoming in the Session 1 campers to officially begin the summer. Today, that gate opened once more, bringing in the campers for Session 3 – the last group of campers for the year.

The day began bright and early, not yet at Ranch Camp but at the Denver Jewish Day School. The green field filled with campers, staff, and families as everyone began to arrive, checking their children in, meeting some of their counselors and cabin mates, and gathering in a circle to open the session. For the first time, many of the Session 3 kids were together in one place. The new community sang a few songs and heard a few words before bidding their parents a “see you later” and boarding the buses to Ranch Camp.

Excitement rose as the buses drew closer to the property, chatters of anticipation floating up and down the aisles as the houses and stores seen through the windows were replaced with barns and fields of horses and cows. Before they knew it, the kids were off the bus once again, descending the stairs and through a human-made tunnel as greetings and choruses of the JCC Welcome Song met their ears.

Once off the buses, each cabin met the few campers who were driven directly to camp, everyone finally together. Everyone took some time to move their belongings into their cabins, unpack, and get to know each other before gathering in the Chad for lunch.

The rest of the day was just as action-packed as the morning. As they traveled around the camp, cabins took the swim test, learned about the Mir’pa’a, tried on boots at the corral, and got their cabin photos taken. While these are all necessary for success at camp, the most important times were those between the scheduled stations. All over camp, campers could be found playing group games and getting to know each other, already forming the bonds that will stay with them for the rest of the session and beyond.

After such a full day, everyone was ready for dinner, the first-night meal a new tradition: spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread. Satisfied and happy, the camp gathered together in the commons once more for the day. This time, there were no introductions or explanations – instead, it was the beginning of the first of many evening programs!

Like the first nights of sessions 1 and 2, the program was Bombardier. As campers raced across campus to answer the trivia questions, they had many opportunities to strengthen the bonds they had made earlier in the day, working together to answer the questions and to solve the team-building exercises assigned to them by the “medics” after being tagged by a Bombardier.

As campers retired to their bunks for the first of many nights, a silence once again fell over the camp. Though it is impossible to predict the future, everyone went to bed with a feeling in their gut, a premonition about the session to come. It was a feeling of optimism and hope, of joy and community, of anticipation and excitement. It was the knowledge that this session is going to be one of the best yet.