Chalutzim’s session has been filled with educational moments, fun programs, and meaningful connections. The first week was spent catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones. Some evening programs included an amazing race, where campers traveled around camp in groups, working together to complete tasks and learn about camp traditions. They also got to know the counselors better in a program known as Reverse Lakeside, where campers spend time with the opposite bunks’ counselors. 

The second week held a four-day trip. Chalutzimers got to learn about history in the South, with a focus on civil rights. An interesting aspect of this trip was looking closely at the role that Jewish people played in the Civil Rights Movement, which was pivotal and is often overlooked. The first stop on the trip included white water rafting prior to visiting the Paperclips Memorial in Whitwell, Tennessee, where Holocaust victims are honored. This memorial holds 11 million paperclips, granting people a rare opportunity to see that number physically represented in a powerful display. The second day was spent mainly in Selma, Alabama, but began in Temple Beth El in Birmingham. We then moved to Selma, where the group spent a few hours in a voting rights museum, getting the unique and special opportunity to speak to a man who was present at Bloody Sunday at just 11 years old and spent his childhood years fighting for his rights. The same man then lead the Chalutzim group through an immersive experience designed to let participants experience what it was like to be a slave during the middle passage.

The last thing we did in Selma was walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which is the location where Bloody Sunday occurred. The day was heavy – yet informative – and the night concluded with a debrief. The third day was spent in Montgomery, touring the Legacy Museum and the attached National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Campers were able to guide themselves through these museums to learn more about slavery, civil rights, and the history of lynching in America. That evening we drove to Atlanta and unwound with a Braves game! The fourth day began at The Temple in Atlanta, a synagogue that played subtle, yet important roles in the civil rights movement. They learned about its history, including how it was bombed in 1958 due to the head Rabbi’s involvement in civil rights.  They then learned about the epidemic of homelessness in America before touring the homeless shelter attached to The Temple. We finished the trip off with a trip to Six Flags before heading back to camp! 

We have now begun our third week, where normal rotations have returned. Evenings have been filled with programs like Super Sloppy Night, campfires, song sessions, and silent discos. As we move into the end of the session, the Chalutzimers will continue to have fun and make memories that will last them a lifetime!

Written by Slater Edlein (Chalutzim Counselor)