A MadDog Machon Summer

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by Brooke Gerber-Perham, C’23 Advisor

Everything, everything will be just fine. These lyrics from The Middle were sung by the CITs all summer long and it rings true. But in reality, everything was so much more than fine.

At Camp Kalsman, our Machonikim or CITs (counselors in training) have an influential role in each and every camper’s experience. This year, we had CITs in every cabin and they immediately bonded with their campers. During Aleph session, CITs live together in a cabin and do educational programming in the morning while still doing camper activities in the afternoon. Once Bet session starts, they move into camper cabins and spend their mornings learning and their afternoons and evenings divided between unit programs with their campers and unit programs as CITs together. They wrote their own programs to lead with their units and finished Bet session by leading a C-I-Carnival for all of camp.

Part of being a CIT is leading a T’fillah service together. This year, the CITs wrote their own powerful story of how each position at camp (campers, CITs, and counselors) all wanted to get to do the fun things of each other’s positions, but ultimately loved what they were doing and how they contributed to camp. To tell this story, they brought a canoe from the lake to the Beit T’fillah and sat in it as they told the story, making it one of the most engaging services we’ve ever seen.

As one of our first mixers of the summer, we divided the CITs into groups and had them make Powerpoints on funny topics. They presented them to each other and laughed so hard. We repeated this at the end of the session with new Powerpoints and had other groups present, making it even funnier than before.

With CITs spread across the evil team and being junior captains, this group stepped up and brought ruach to every aspect of Maccabiah this year. They sang until they were kicked offstage and had creative dances that had all of camp laughing.

Between sessions, staff members go home for one night to reset, but the CITs instead go on a camping trip. This year we did outdoor laser tag, got Thai food on the beach, went to Target, and camped in Bellingham. We had a Taylor Swift listening party and sat around the campfire for meaningful conversations and programs. The most memorable siyumim of our lives happened this summer. With our group of Machon this year we did MadDog siyum, where we ate insanely spicy hot sauce and then did siyum, laughing and coughing together.

Why MadDog? No particular reason in the moment, other than camp silliness, but in retrospect it was beautiful metaphor for camp… even in the craziest (spiciest) moments: we are together, making memories, building character, connecting with each other in this beautiful place we call home.

The CIT program is a commitment to camp. Each and every one of the people in C’23 brought their all to giving back to camp and grew into strong counselors and a caring community. We loved working with all of them and we are so proud of them this summer.

ChatulBob. Mic drop.