Around Camp with Ben

The osrui blog

Home » Around Camp with Ben

Hi There! My name is Ben. I’m one of the Assistant Directors on OSRUI. I think we all know that camp is a pretty amazing place. It has something for everyone: sports, art, learning, friends, the list goes on and on. There’s a lot of awesome things happening at OSRUI this summer and I am so excited to tell you all about them. So join me as we go on a tour of camp with some of the people who make it possible as they share how they make camp magic happen every single day!

Today, I am bring you Will Rivlin, Rosh Eidah of Gesher, and his merry band of Gesher Intensive Specialists: Micah Brandhandler and Alek Kopulsky (Musical Intensive), Kevin Horwitz (Science Intensive), Renee Liberman (Aquatics Intensive), Nomi Kane (Cooking Intensive), and Shira Brandhandler (Sports Intensive). They’re here to tell us about Gesher and how this particular eidah (unit) allows for campers to have fun at camp in their own specialty.Read below to hear what they have to say:

BEN: Will, Gesher is an interesting unit on camp. What about it follows a typical camp schedule? What do the intensives add to Gesher’s camp experience? How does Gesher help enhance a camper’s connection to Judaism? 

WILL: Gesher is a unique and special eidah (unit) here at OSRUI. We do everything that other eidot (units) do, including sports, swimming, creative arts, and learning Hebrew. We also get to do intensives which are a fun and exciting way for chanichIm (campers) to explore their interests in depth. During these intensives, our faculty partner with us to add Jewish context and values to all of these activities. You’ll get a chance to read about our intensives below – each one ends in a culminating project or presentation that showcases what they’ve done during their time at camp.

BEN: Alek and Micah, you create a musical with campers in 4 weeks? Can you explain the process and how the campers get involved?

ALEK & MICAH: Yes we do and while the show changes every year, the process is relatively the same. This session, we based our musical off of comical scenes for the Torah portions in the books of Genesis and Exodus. Our intensive campers read through these scripts and narrowed down to the three that most held their interest. We then brainstormed and selected songs we know from popular musicals that share themes with these stories. In the process of learning these songs as a cast, we made small changes to the lyrics to better fit details of the stories. Interested campers were invited to write a transition scenes to weave the three scripts together. It was a creative process that allowed us to learn about stories in the Torah while drawing inspiration from our favorite musicals!

BEN: Kevin, so… Science… at camp? How do you make this intensive fit in with the summer camp lifestyle? What activities do you do? What is the value of this intensive compared to ropes course or the pool? 

KEVIN: The kids that choose Science have a natural interest and love of science. We do a lot of hands on activities that are often open ended experiments involving problem solving and engineering. We talk and learn briefly about different Science concepts but the focus is hands on fun. We have explored themes, such as energy (wind powered vehicles) , senses (blind taste/touch/smell testing), natural disasters (Earthquake proof buildings), and simple machines (Rube Goldberg). For me, Science is as fun as the Ropes or Pool (both of these are extensions of physics, chemistry, and biology). It’s another great option for campers to enjoy. I don’t believe the average camp out there is offering Science like OSRUI is and it is so great to be a part of it!

BEN: Renee, can you really have an aquatics intensive? Isn’t the pool mostly for swimming and cooling off in the summer? What’s the benefit of campers learning lifeguarding skills? And how do you make it fun?

RENEE: The aquatics intensive combines fun and lifesaving skills for a variety of reasons. First of all, one of the most important characteristics of a well-trained lifeguard is to be a part of a team and communicate with each other. We’ve practiced partner and team-based search and rescue techniques at the beach. Together, they’ve completed deeper water rescues in the pool and practiced calling out when to go underwater together. Clearly communicating and building on this trust is part of what camp is all about! The campers now have the bonus of knowing how to use some rescue equipment and work together to help someone in need. We’ve added in fun with relays, competitions, diving rings, slide races, and boating days! 

BEN: Nomi, what kinds of cooking skills do you teach during the cooking intensive? Are there life skills you think the campers gain as well?

NOMI: We teach all kinds of cookings skills. We bake from scratch, make delicious entrees, and practice the skills of presenting our culinary art. That’s how we approach cooking at OSRUI: It’s an art form and a different method to the reach the community. Food sustains Jewish culture in the same way the Torah sustains Judaism. If there’s no sustenance there’s no Torah and if there’s no Torah there’s no sustenance. Thus, in cooking, we learn how to provide and sustain ourselves, our friends, and our families. The table is a mikdash ma’ot, like a mini sanctuary. We are learning how to fill our sanctuaries and our mouths at the same time.

BEN: Shira, why is a sports intensive valuable to these campers? What makes it different than simply joining an organized sport over the summer?

SHIRA: In sports intensive we try lots of different sports! We have played everything from soccer and basketball to new Israeli games and gaga. It is awesome to get to build a team while at camp and work together to show off our strengths and improve our weaknesses. Sports are a great tool to learn about working hard, practicing, sportsmanship, and more. During sports intensive we get to learn about all of these values while also relating them to our Jewish values like kehila (community) when playing as a team and chesed (kindness) when giving each other assistance and allowing our teammates to practice to improve.

Wow! Thanks, Will and Specialists, for sharing your insight and expertise with us about the inner workings of camp’s Gesher Intensive program. We thank you for everything that you do at camp and wish you the best summer ever. And for all of you reading this, thanks for checking out our blog, and come back next week as we feature more of the great parts of camp that make it the greatest place on Earth! See ya later!