For the three months prior to camp opening, Camp Mesorah’s administrative team and staff have done everything possible to give their campers a much-needed summer. It was Camp Mesorah’s goal to provide the campers and staff with everything they had missed out on during quarantine.
“When Gouvenor Cuomo made his announcement on June 12 that New York sleep-away camps can’t open this summer, we knew what we had to do to give our Mesorah family and the extended community, who had no camp to go to, a summer to remember,” said Ari Katz, the director of Camp Mesorah. “Deena and I, along with our administrative team, spent the following weeks finding a new campus and preparing for summer 2020.
Coming off of four months of quarantine, we needed to make sure that our campers had a safe place to be ‘normal kids’ again. Events like bar/bat mitzvah night, graduation ceremonies, playing sports leagues, socializing with friends and following a daily routine and schedule were all important things the campers and counselors were missing out on over the past few months that we were able to provide for them over the past couple of weeks in camp.”
This past Sunday night, Camp Mesorah held a special graduation ceremony for all of its eighth and 12th grade graduates. It was a night representative of what Camp Mesorah has done for all its campers and staff since camp opened on July 15.
Following a delicious shawarma dinner, campers and staff headed back to their bunks in preparation for their big night. As some put on suits, dresses and even graduation gowns, the auditorium was prepared and assembled with a makeshift aisle down the middle, colorful lights, music and “family seating.”
The graduates’ arrival at the venue followed shortly after, where they were given graduation hats and then guided outside to line up for their once-in-a-lifetime entrance and walk down the aisle toward the stage. The music began playing, the crowd started to cheer and many 10th and 11th graders guided their graduating peers down the walkway.
Once all the graduates had reached the stage at the front of the room, The director of boys and girls campuses, Deena Katz, shared a few words as a proud parent and aunt of two of the graduates.
“Our camp’s name is Mesorah,” she said in her speech. “The definition of this word is tradition. You all have a special power to take the mesorah, the traditions, you have been taught over the many years and apply them and pass them on to inspire others. We hope that in the time we are together in camp, you will learn from all your leaders––camp rabbis, chinuch teachers, kollel, head counselors, the programming team, division heads, specialty heads and counselors. Remember to always look for the mesorah that you can now pass down to others and the role models you can become for your fellow friends and for all the campers who are looking up to you.”
Those words set the tone for what was to come. Dov Katz and Shira Englander called up every graduate by name and the head counselors, Rabbi Jonathan Cohen and Ronit Wenger, presented each graduate with a “diploma” signed by Ari Katz and a gift, a “tradition soup,” in true Camp Mesorah fashion.
After every graduate had his or her photo taken, DJ Coby Mandel led a glow in the dark dance party where everyone had the opportunity to celebrate together as exuberant energy filled the air. This event epitomized Camp Mesorah’s goal of providing its campers with a memorable summer.