Keats Camp – Junior Retreat Day 2

Some of our brave early risers who hiked with Rabbi Berger for morning Tefillah.
Last night was not the worst of times, nor the best of times, though I truly did enjoy standing in the warm air, even with the tiniest bit of rain, talking with our wonderful staff – this trip is not just about bonding for the students (though do not tell them, as they are much happier believing it is all about them). I particularly appreciated staff support in reminding the students, repeatedly, to be respectful and to let those who need to sleep do just that. Lights out was at 11:00 p.m. but it was sometime between then and the witching hour that we were able to head to our staff cabins to attempt sleep.
The morning brought a real change – much cooler temperatures, more moisture in the air, and exceedingly tired children (who could have predicted any of those things?!). However, a very brave minyan hiked up for morning Tefillah with Rabbi Berger. They were up and out before most of us had woken up – kudos to the students who took part. By the time the students made their way to the breakfast spot for cereal, bagels, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, etc., their energy was returning and it was clear that a little rain was not going to dampen their spirits. Personally, I am a sun bunny, and I am even thinking of changing my Twitter handle to something like: "sunbunny613" – is it taken?
Unfortunately one of our students hurt their wrist badly yesterday and although the student bravely persisted, today I took a few hours to be an escort to Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal for parent pick-up (unfortunately a broken bone was confirmed). I arrived back at camp just at the end of lunch and I walked down the trail to the cafeteria serenaded by a loud rendition of birkat hamazon. The lunch that was already put away upon my arrival was the classic macaroni and cheese with garlic bread and caesar salad (do not worry, I was well taken care of….)

Our Grade 8s won’t let a little rain stop them!

This is generally an easy flow day with 4 activities before dinner – with 2 of these before lunch. Due to weather we adjusted some of the activities, since the ropes courses and the climbing wall were all closed for safety reasons. The wind kept us off the water this morning too. We added lots of more "game" activities, and many brave students stayed outside – I do admire their resilience. Today has been more challenging weatherwise than most and I think Mr. Dichter has adjusted activity plans more than at any other retreat. The rain is being typically "wet coast" and so we moved some of the evening activities to the afternoon. All of this has resulted in kids having more freedom and flexibility, which works well for some, but not for all. I am a believer in keeping the kids busy, busy, busy – as parents I know you understand this to be a well-purposed mantra.
I do have a rhetorical question to ask. Why do kids who have raincoats here refuse to wear them? (The other question is, why do so many kids not have raincoats?) Wet hoodies are not warm. I am shaking my head – can you hear the rattling?

Grade 10 students Yegor Mazin and Sean Sandler learn the rules of the game!

Grade 8 students Taya Asadurian and Maya Zilberberg jammed with Music teacher Johnny Seguin.

So the rain really did impact this day and kudos to everyone, staff and students alike, for adjusting and trying their best. I know the kitchen’s hot chocolate surprise was a welcome treat. The other treat is that tonight’s dinner was our famous "Burgers by Berger" night as the Rabbi barbecued up a feast. Rabbi does have the perfect name for this night, because who wants "Klein’s Burgers"? (Klein translates as "small"). I really do have to come up with something for my name (it scares me to think of the answers percolating out there in Parentland.)
Dinner was a rousing success and Rabbi impressed as always with his skills. With dinner done, the students are being given an hour to unwind before an evening program that is now going to include cabin conversations with a teacher or two with each group. After a little intense reflection there will be more singing in the karaoke funhouse. We are going to end this update early tonight – Breanne and I are going to fully immerse ourselves in the events of the evening and enjoy the final night with everyone.

Grade 10 students Barak Lapid, Liam Greenberg, Eitan Sasky, and Josh Isakov

Before I say goodbye to you all I would like to thank Matt Dichter and Debbie Appelbaum for their outstanding work – every year – in organizing this event for us and to the other amazing staff (Ellia Belson, Rabbi Stephen Berger, Ira Cooper, Cameron Metcalfe, Esther Mogyoros, Brady Mymko, Megan Neary, Corin Neuman, Breanne Rogers, Johnny Seguin, Donna Thomas, Marie Vondracek, and Kathy Zhang, as well as our two shinshinim, Camille and Omer) who all gave so much of themselves to make this a trip to remember for our students. I am so appreciative of everyone’s extra care and attention, and phenomenal attitude with the students and with each other. I also want to thank the Keats Camp staff for their flexibility and good humour, and Stacey and Renee Kettleman who once again catered for this trip – they are amazing to all of us, and we all truly appreciate them for the effort they put in!
We hope to be home around 2:00 p.m. Friday, or just after, but we will send an email after we are at sea and have an estimate of our arrival time from the captain. As I say every year, please tell your kids how much we enjoyed these days – that is so true – and we hope they enjoyed them too. However – and this is the critical part – do not be late for pick up (I have only so much "love" to give!)
Please get ready for our first full week of classes next week (we actually get 2 full weeks in a row before the High Holidays kick in.)
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,

Looking back fondly on yesterday’s sun – Ms. Belson with her Grade 8 activity group.
King David High School, 5718 Willow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4S9 Canada
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