Blog  Unpacking Camp

Unpacking Camp

By Bobby Harris, Camp Director

Hello Camp Coleman families!  I am writing to you as we conclude our fun-filled Maccabiah entitled “The Island of MAC”. Maccabiah was filled with lots of creativity, cheering, friendly competition, and incredible energy as campers participated in sports, song and cheer sessions, a relay race throughout camp called Marathon, art projects, skits, and so much more.  We are now looking toward our evening program “Coleman Rocks” in which 4 camper bands will lead us in a festive camp-wide concert in the Hillman Chapel.  A bunch of campers stopped me at lunch today and said “Bobby, can you believe that tomorrow is packing day? We are so sad that this amazing session is almost over” I like to tell them that we are fortunate that we will miss camp because we only miss things that we really love and appreciate.

As we are about to conclude this session filled with new and renewed friendships, exciting and adventurous trips, raucous song sessions, new skills, and of course living in a joyous Jewish community, I am aware that it might sometimes be challenging for you as parents to learn about specific aspects of camp life from your child’s perspective.

Here are a few pointers that might help you get more than 1 word answers and have a real discussion with your children about camp.

  1. The People”- When you ask campers and staff what their favorite part of camp was, most will say “the people”. Ask them if they can tell you in which city and state each of their bunkmates live. In addition to asking about their counselors, ask them “which staff member, other than your counselor, made a positive impression on you?” or “Did you meet anyone from another country?” Also, our entering 3rd-8th graders have staff-in-training (Machon) assigned to their cabins, so you can ask them “Did you have a Machon assigned to your cabin? Tell me about that.”
  2. The Activities— there are lots of choices at Coleman. Asking “this or that” questions can frequently lead the campers to talk more about it. Here are a few that you could ask—Do you prefer…
    • Chofesh (daily free period) or “Mand Ops” (longer free time on Shabbat—slang for mandatory optionals)?
    • Lake or Pool?
    • Evening Program: Gaga for Gaga, Super Sloppy, or World Cup Night?
    • Strauss (chapel in the woods) or Hillman (chapel overlooking the lake)?
    • On the lake: Canoe or Bellyak?
    • Favorite Shabbat Story: King of Little Things, Tookie Saves the Rain Forest, or Chicken and Crocodile?

And a couple about food:

  • Afternoon snack- “ice cream sandwich” or “fresh fruit bar”
  • Breakfast Bar or Salad Bar
  1. The Songs – Below are 5 songs that we enjoyed singing this session. We were fortunate to have musicians Chana Rothman and Nefesh Mountain spend time with us at camp.  Check out the tunes below on your drive home from camp –hear what your campers have to say about these and other songs that they sang this summer.
  1. Maccabiah –aka MAC
  • Campers will usually tell you on which team they participated and whether the team won or lost. Go beyond that– ask them about their individual participation in Maccabiah.
  • We always try to make it a surprise when Maccabiah will start.  Ask them “Did you know when MAC was going to start this year?”
  • Ask them about the “Escape the Room” activity which took place in the hockey pavilion.
  • Ask if they had a role in the Marathon (many campers do); if so, what did they do?
  • Ask them “What was different about the rope burn this year than any other year?”
  1. Letter Lotto

Ask your camper “What is Letter Lotto?” and “Did anyone in your cabin win Letter Lotto?” Ask which prize they chose or would have chosen if they won —a Coleman towel? A Coleman flashlight? Something else?


These are just a few categories of questions to begin the conversation and help you learn more about your camper’s experience at Coleman this summer.

On behalf of all of us at Coleman, we want to wish you a wonderful rest of the summer and we hope to see you next year either at camp or on our Coleman-in-Israel trip.