Post Adventure Thoughts

What time is it? Not adventure time! (At least, not anymore) This year of Adventure camp was In-Tents! Between the excellent food and the awesome hikes/rock climbing I am so ready to coma for at least a week. Shout out to all you Adventure Campers – you were amazing! You were ready for anything and willing to try all sorts of fun new things, but my favorite part of camp was getting to know all of you over the course of our week together. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little glad to be back in civilization though – and a lot appreciative of the comforts of home. For example, air conditioning. Also for example, refrigerators.

I’m sitting back at the office now; we’re going to be packing up the rest of the adventure camp equipment and winding down from our Camp Gilgal 2k15 summer session which is bittersweet. I feel so lucky that I was able to play a small part in giving you a week full of memories and an opportunity to grow in your faith. We learned things about Jonah that we didn’t previously consider, and learned what repentance is, but most importantly we got a glimpse of how great (and unwarranted) Gods mercy really is. We’d love to hear back from you guys about what your favorite part of camp was, what meal you thought was the greatest, something you thought or learned during our time in Jonah, or even which of your muscles are the most sore. I have a bunch of memories that I particularly enjoy, like listening to the rain from inside the tent during that crazy thunderstorm, or when we saw those adorable and mischievous little raccoons and they poked their heads out from around a tree (so cute!), oh! And when Lydia was climbing that wall on the first day that the guides said was a little too hard but we could try anyway. She got so high! I’m going to miss all you guys a ton and I hope to see you on the skype hangouts (which will start the end of August).

Junior & Teen Camp Reflections

I meant to put this up before we left for adventure camp but that didn’t happen, so here’s my belated post Jr/Teen thoughts:

Wow. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been through 3 weeks of camp already! I am so glad you guys decided to share a part of your summer with Gilgal, and I miss you all terribly a lot. Sox, Beardo, Strings, and I are all back at the branch and everything from Jr and Teen camp is all stowed away and not filling up our office area anymore. It was a mountain of stuff all over the desks and floor (not unlike my room)! I hope everyone has been able to recuperate at least somewhat; I know that I personally could sleep for days and still be ready for a nap. We are going to be putting up the gazette articles you all wrote starting sometime after adventure camp, so be ready! We’d love to hear more from you too, what your favorite thing about camp this year was, a story or adventure that happened while you were here, something from your devotions that really meant something to you, or even what song you liked best from worship or at campfire.

Camp has always been an important part of my life and each year that I get to come back as staff is such a blessing. Being the intern this summer gave me a new level of appreciation for everything that goes into making it the amazing experience that it is. I loved all the things we got to do together – like at Junior Camp helping you guys in craft and Hebrew, and dropping in on each group on the campout night. Or at Teen camp when my group went on the hike in Thatcher Park, and let us not forget the Decathalon… when we doing the challenge where we weren’t allowed to move and then there was a snake and we thought they were joking, but there was actually a snake! Haha.

I hope all of your summers are going well and I can’t wait to see you next year (or maybe even winter weekend or ingathering!)

Dear First Time Camper

It’s that time again, time to read a letter lovingly written from staff to new camper. Today its RedSox’s turn! She has been helping direct camp for the past 7 years, but this year marks her first season as official Director Numero Uno and we are SO EXCITED for that! She has been part of the Camp Gilgal family since 2002 and has only missed 1 year of camp – to go on massah (a Jews For Jesus trip to Israel and India). At the old location we had for teen camp, her favorite activity was stargazing – maybe we should bring that back it sounds fantastic! She also really likes one meal that we have here at camp in particular – the goldfish mac and cheese. You have this and so much more to look forward to this year with us. As always, if you’re interested in Camp Gilgal (or you know someone who is) make sure to check out! Now lets see what she has to say to you new campers out there! 

Dear First Time Camp Gilgal Camper,

I wanted to write to welcome you to the Camp Gilgal family! I hope that you are getting excited for the summer and wanted to tell you a few things to help you get ready. At Camp Gilgal, all of the staff use crazy camp names (mine is RedSox!) and the alarm clock for camp is a shofar. We will take a field trip and have dress-up theme meals…but we keep the exact details a surprise for extra fun! There are a few things that you might forget to pack that will make your time at camp easier: water bottle, an extra pair of shoes, 2 towels, and shoes for the shower…and don’t forget your Bible!

            You’ll be in a tribe with other kids in your age group and together you’ll earn points to get a party at the end of camp. We can’t wait to meet you and welcome you in person—I think you’re going to love it!

                        See you soon,


Dear First Time Camper

This letter is specifically addressed to our first time teen campers, written by our beloved Sitruce. As her name suggests she is a very unique and fun staff person. She started coming to camp as a JR camper in ’07 and last year was her first year as an Assistant Tribe Leader! We are so excited to say that this year she is coming back as a TL at JR Camp! At Gilgal she feels very passionately towards a particular meal – breakfast french toast sticks with syrup! Her favorite camp memory comes from her time at teen camp, when she was playing a CERTAIN VERY LOUD GAME which you will come to know and love. She and her teammate Tauros ( who is very big and loud) were Pwning everybody and having a grand old time and even came in second place at the end! You go girl! As per ushe, if you’re interested in Camp Gilgal (or you know someone who is) make sure to check out! Now back to Sitruce!


Dear First Time Camper,

Hi! My name is Sitruce. I’m soooo happy you will be coming to Teen Camp this year. Here is some stuff you should know.

  • Make sure you bring a water bottle—very important!
  • Food is awesome, there is a great Chef.
  • We’ll go white water rafting; it’s an incredible experience, but remember do bring shoes!
  • Make sure you bring a sweatshirt. Yes, it gets cold even though it’s the middle of summer.
  • Be ready to make a lot of friends

And do have a week full of fun and meeting God in a new way.



Interning – Ruski Style

I’ve been here in the City for 3 weeks now and it has been a strange mix of excitement and normalness. I wake up, I work, I eat, I go home, have dinner, and relax. Wash, rinse, repeat. Even my work isn’t inherently exhilarating. Researching, contacting companies, making plans and schedules. Some of it isn’t my favorite, like calling strangers. But other things, like making the activity roster for camp, are strangely enjoyable! It’s like a mind puzzle, and I love it. My food life is a sometimes tedious adventure. Did you know that when you live on your own you have to plan for every meal you want to have? And buy the ingredients, make it, and when it runs out you have to start the whole process over again! It can be a lot of fun, I like cooking and coming up with new things to make and eat, but it’s also super crazy.

Being here as the intern is in some ways exactly what I thought it would be, and in other ways very not. I knew it would be a lot of work, that it would be stressful, and most importantly that my time here has a purpose and that purpose is to make camp, which has always been the spiritual and social/emotional pinnacle of my year, everything it ever was for me and more for this generation of campers. I am so excited for what camp will be this year, for myself because this will be my first year out of cabin and in an administrative position, for my fellow staff many of whom are also experiencing first times but as TLs or ATLs, and especially for the campers. Interacting with them and giving them opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth is what I live for – I know that I remember fondly how when I was a camper I always had friends in the staff, they were always kind and patient and I want to make sure that other children who were like me have that too. Sometimes the work I do is discouraging, because it seems like no matter how much I get done there is always more, and sometimes I get tired from all the mental effort that goes into everything, but I know that I am strengthened through Y’shua and that when I look back on this season I want to be able to say I gave it my all. I’m learning so much, too – what it means to work with a strict deadline, how to balance tasks and prioritize things that all need to be done, how to realize my own limitations and succeed in my environment, and let’s not forget, how to de-stress after a long day of work.

One very successful way to de-tox is to take advantage of the fact that I am in NYC –a hub of culture and variety. I’m trying to get out every few days and try new places – There was a book store, Strand, where I found the most excellent book! I’ve been to a place that does exotic burgers called Bareburger and had elk for the first time. It was surprisingly tangy and so delicious! I went to Insomnia cookie, its thing was that it only sells specialty cookies, from noon ‘till 3am, and there I had THE best cookie ever. Sorry Mom, your chocolate chip recipe will always have a special place in my heart but their S’mores cookie is now my life. On a rainy Sunday I went to Birch Coffee and read the book I bought at strand for a few hours, they have just the cutest little library nook right in the shop! I can’t wait for all the other new places I’m going to find while I’m here!

Ruski’s Experience at Penina’s Bat Mitzvah

What is better than the weekend? Going to a bat mitzvah on the weekend!

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the bat mitzvah of our dear camper Penina. I have never been to a bat mitzvah for a believer, my only other experience being my counsin’s about 6 years ago. I was intrigued by how much more prevalent God seemed in the service, and how much friendlier the people were – I really felt included. I had been under the impression that a bar/bat mitzvah was a lot like a quinceñera in that it is a celebration of coming of age in the community; there are festivities and food and friendly mingling, etc. While those things were definitely present, I was so pleased to also experience worship of God in song, in the messages by both Penina and the Rabbi, and in the ceremony itself – like the liturgy and the bringing out and reading of the Torah.

Her havtorah portion was Bamidbar, which is Numbers 1:1 – 4:20. She read the Maftir, which was 4:17-20 and for her havtorah portion she read Hosea 2:1-13. To my pleasure she gave a delightful and unique message. She talked about God trying to have a relationship with his people – in Numbers by setting rules in place for his worship and designating people to certain tasks – the Koathites only being able to remove the holy things of the temple after Aaron and his sons had covered them – and in Hosea, by saying that the children of Israel are still his people but they must cast aside their Harlot-like idolatry.

During her message I couldn’t help but think of the significance of the bar/bat mitzvah and coming of age in Jewish culture. Why are we considered adults at 12-14? I believe that this is a tradition harking back to very ancient times. In ancient Greece a boy was not entitled to his father’s inheritance or his name unless he was “adopted” into the family, which would occur when he reached 12-14 years of age. Until that time he would be considered at the same level as a slave, he could even be put to death by his father with no thought by the community of that being wrong. I wonder how differently children behaved back then as compared to now. While this is not the same as reaching adulthood in the Jewish community, it shows that there was a time when a “teen” was only ever considered an adult and had to shoulder the responsibilities and privileges associated. I think that in a culture where teens are treated like older children as opposed to young adults we could stand to teach our young people to be a little more mitzvot conscious. That is to say, have these young people be aware that the actions they take affect not only themselves but the people around them and that we should be conscious of doing ‘mitzvot’ or ‘good deeds’ because it’s what is right, and also the only way a society can flourish. This, in a roundabout kind of way, brings us back to adulthood in Jewish culture, and leaves me thinking that it is a wonderful tradition.

But what does coming of age really mean, especially for those like me who never had a bat or bar mitzvah? I try to think of a time, a milestone, in my life where I felt that I had truly come into my own. One of those times for me was my first year as staff at camp. I did the 5 week challenge – 2 weeks as an ATL at Junior Camp, 2 weeks on Halutzim, and 1 week as a camper at adventure camp. It was a rigorous time, I learned a lot about my physical limitations, emotional needs, how to be a leader of children (there is a LOT that goes into being staff, you wouldn’t even realize), and how to own my faith and share it with others. I think that is the most important part of growing up, finding out who you are. And the summer of 2010 was definitely a time when that happened for me. But the most exciting part is that a milestone is just that – a marker. It’s not the finale, you are still running the race set before you, and being an adult is about always overcoming and setting aside the weights and sins that so easily ensnare us to become the people that God wants us to be and to live uprightly, constantly fixed on his love and righteousness. We can all be uniquely ourselves and also live for God and the process of learning how to do this is the thing for which you have ‘come of age’.

All in all it was a beautiful and compelling service and I’m so glad I was able to be there. Congratulations Penina, and I wish you blessings in this journey called adulthood!

Dear First Time Camper

Next on the roster for our DFTC posts is the one and only (drum roll please) Scooter! He’s been part of the Camp Gilgal family since 2009 at Teen Camp, and has been with us ever since. He will be here this summer, too! He’s a pretty cool guy, and you can pick him out of a crowd by the many different colored bandanas he likes to wear. Another thing about him is that he’s basically the official camp photographer, so stay on his good side or he might not delete those embarrassing pictures he might catch of you. He plays cajon on the camp worship team, and can lay down a sick beat. Scooter also really loves working with the kids here at camp, and here are some things he wants to say to anyone who plans on coming for the first time:


Hey There Camper,

It’s great to hear that you’ll be joining us for camp this summer. It’s always exciting to know that someone new will get to share experiences and make new memories with us. People might just tell you that camp is fun, but it’s so much more than that! Camp has always been a place where anyone can feel comfortable and safe enough to try new things you would never get the chance to try any other time of the year. Honestly, with my first year at camp, I didn’t know what to expect. If you’re feeling the same way, good! Camp is all about expecting the unexpected. Remember, everyone has and has had a first year at camp, and if you ask anyone at camp, they’ll give you plenty of reasons why they always want to come back.

            As someone who has been to camp a few times, I wanted to close with giving you some advice I wish I had known my first year: you’ll be getting or might have already gotten a list of things to bring to camp. Double, or even triple check that you have EVERYTHING you need. And for me, “optional” usually means “recommended.”

            With all these things in mind, I hope you build up all the excitement that I already have for you and everyone you’ll be able to meet.





Dear First Time Camper

Our next letter to any and all fabulous first time campers was written by Strings! She will also be with us at camp this summer, and boy are we excited. She has been coming to camp since she was 10 and has been staff since 2003! She plays the violin, and has in years past played the roll of Hebrew teacher, as well as ATL leader which she will be co-leading again for 2015. So exciting! And don’t forget, if you’re interested in Camp Gilgal (or you know someone who is) make sure to check out!

Dear New Awesome Camper,

Hey! My name is Strings and I’m so excited that you’re coming to Camp Gilgal this summer! Here are some things that are useful to know:

  1. The food is pretty good. Chef is awesome.
  2. The pool is awesome. If you bring goggles, it’s even better.
  3. Bring a sweatshirt. It’s always colder than you think it will be at night.
  4. A joke that will make sense when you get here:

Q: When is a drawer not a drawer?

A: When it’s ajar!

  1. Bring a water bottle!
  2. Be prepared to make a lot of new friends.
  3. Remember once a Camp Gilgal camper, always a Camp Gilgal camper.

Welcome to the Family!

Walk in Love,


Twin Night