This year, when Camp Kaylie and NCSY Summer partnered together to form Camp Impact, formerly known as RTC, a tremendous amount of excitement and buzz was created building up to this summer. As such, a main focus going into the summer was trying to match the anticipatory hype with the authentic excitement of the program itself. The campers experienced a full and exhilarating three-weeks of shiurim, chaburahs with the madrichim, intense sports leagues, beach volleyball tournaments, a scavenger hunt at the Palisades Mall, ice skating, Giants training camp, Hershey Park, Six Flags, Dave and Busters, paintball, Urban Air, a tour of Metlife Stadium, a “Chopped” competition, a Somerset Patriots baseball game, both Mets and Yankees baseball games, a trip to The American Dream Water Park, water-tubing, paddleboarding, party boats, aqua parks, laser tag, a ropes/zipline course and so much more. The goal was to create the perfect blend of having a home base in a hotel, while also being able to play sports and go on exciting trips every day.
All of the fun and excitement notwithstanding, one of the main missions of the summer was to make a kiddush Hashem in the many places that we went. As such, there were countless examples of bus drivers, vendors, lifeguards, staff members and by-standers, to name a few, who informed us regarding how impressed they were by the overall demeanor and behavior of the campers. That being said, there is one interaction in particular that will remain etched on my heart for many years to come. While we primarily had the hotel to ourselves throughout the program, for the last Shabbos of Camp Impact, Shabbos Nachamu, we shared the hotel with a retreat of over350 chasidim from Boro Park, Williamsburg and Monroe. I was unsure how the two groups would mesh, however my concerns immediately dissipated once Shabbos began. Throughout Shabbos, some of the Chassidish men and boys joined us for learning and singing. One of the highlights for me was on Shabbos afternoon when about 50 Satmar boys sat around a table with about 50 Camp Impact boys as we sang zemiros together. What greater nechama could we possibly achieve after Tisha B’Av than Jews from different backgrounds singing to Hashem together? As this was happening, I was looking at the hotel’s front door, eagerly expecting Moshiach to come at any moment. On Motzei Shabbos, one of the leaders of the Chassidish group, remarked to me, “When we first saw your group, we felt like we were going to be doing some kiruv over Shabbos. However, after having spent Shabbos with your boys, they inspired us much more than we could ever have inspired them.”
The most beautiful and meaningful part of Camp Impact for me was watching the campers interact with the madrichim. The madrichim come from similar backgrounds as the boys and are only a few years older than them, yet they were able to truly serve as role models. Through the chabura learning and all of the fun activities that the campers and madrichim experienced together, the madrichim served as paradigmatic examples of what it means to have a lot of fun and take sports seriously on the one hand, while also being growth-oriented bnei Torah on the other. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing group of madrichim who made a tremendous impact (pun intended) on our campers this summer: MD Baum, Ephraim Boczko, Alex Herman, Ari Ivry, Yis Kaminetzky, Abie Kupchik, Elisha Markovitz, Ari Rosenberg, Eliav Sacknovitz, Ari Smith, Avi Tepler, Raffi Weil, Yehuda Wiener and Isaac Wilamowsky.
In addition to our inspiring group of madrichim, I would also like to thank our upper staff members. This includes division heads Akiva Aryeh and Yossi Dietz, operations staff Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz, Joe Greenberg and Jacob Grossman, the Camp Mom Ronit Wenger, and Assistant Director Rabbi Jeremy Fine. Their unending devotion and dedication to every aspect of the program was critical to its ultimate success. We were also extremely fortunate to have had an incredible group of rebbeim give shiurim to the campers throughout the summer, including Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Rabbi Gedalia Jaffe, Rabbi Ellie Kurtz, Rabbi Chaim Marcus, Rav Aharon Pessin, Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz, Rabbi Eli Reisman and Rabbi Yisrael Moshe Siff. Many of the boys took advantage of the opportunity to ask the rebbeim various questions, both halachic and personal. Lastly, I would like to thank Rabbi Eli Brazil and David Cutler as well as all of the Camp Kaylie and NCSY leadership for their constant support, mentorship and assistance throughout the summer and beyond.
After an incredible summer of growth, new friendships and tons of fun, the campers and parents alike are eagerly awaiting to see what will be in store next summer.