June 8, 2024
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June 8, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Camp Lavi: Your ‘Forever Camp’

To those in the know, Lavi is the “forever home” camp. In its 45th consecutive year in existence, Camp Lavi had a phenomenal summer. On the heels of an amazing 2020 experience, despite the pandemic, Lavi was once again open for its hundreds of campers. We were fortunate to have members of Yachad back at camp after a one-year hiatus, and their return to Lavi made the summer even more memorable. Located in Lakewood, Pennsylvania, Lavi is known for its intimate atmosphere, its superior athletics, its breathtaking facilities (new to 2021 were two mountain slides riding into the lake, a covered trampoline park and state-of-the-art new bunks), its unparalleled ruach—there is always “pump up” music blasting in camp!—and its epic Color War.

The 2021 Lavi experience, like many of its peer camps, began with numerous days of rain. But at Lavi, rain means a bit of mud, and a bit of mud means playing sports while getting dirtier than usual and mud sliding in the heart of boys and girls campuses. An unexpected blackout was a daunting challenge, but when it ended a few minutes before dinnertime, there was an impromptu dance party in the dining room, as hundreds of campers celebrated the return to normalcy.

The last week of the first session included the annual Olympic Games, with the camp divided into four countries. Campers were able to earn gold, silver and bronze medals for sports that ran the gamut; and the songs, banners, mascots and other paraphernalia became hallmarks of the summer ’21 experience. The Switzerland song, the India banner and the Jamaica victory were certainly highlights of Lavi 2021 for hundreds of campers. A one-day teen color war brought tremendous energy to the oldest campers, our rising ninth and 10th graders. The Nissim Black concert on Motzei Shabbat was joyous and boisterous, energizing the Lavi community. And 4.6-mile hikes to Como Pizza brought smiles to many campers’ faces.

The second session was even more incredible! There were field trips for all ages, an uproarious visit by the Harlem Wizards and an uplifting Color War, with Tefilah (orange) edging Torah (blue) in a tight race. The highly enthralling Bucket Brigade and multi-hour Apache Relay Race on consecutive afternoons united the camp in raucous fun; and the evening finale was an event not to be missed! Of course, basketball leagues, dune buggies, hockey, art, baking, the Wibit, spinning, fitness and many more activities were features of the daily schedule throughout the seven-week experience.

For many, the beginning and ending of Shabbat at Lavi is worth the price of admission. With the campers dancing in the playhouse during Kabbalat Shabbat, and the entire camp singing arm-in-arm during Saturday night’s ebbing, inspiring and emotional memories are imprinted in campers’ and staff members’ minds alike for a very long time.

Lavi 2022 will be here before we know it! Until then, the countdown begins as Lavi campers live 10 for 2, eagerly looking forward to returning to their forever home.


Michael Courtney is the director of college counseling at SAR High School.

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