Opening Days 2016!

Hello from the Hillside! (Did that sound like Adele to anyone else?)

What an amazing first day we had here at Camp Bauercrest!  The weather was spectacular, the bunks were ship shape, the staff was chomping at the bit, and the campers arrived ready for action.  And I can assure you there was no shortage of action!  Just before Taps, I visited each of the bunks; I loved watching the kids getting to know each other, or catching up on the time since they’d seen each other last.  Some were playing cards, some were listening to music… every one of them looked right at home. Of course there was a little homesickness… after all, it’s Day 1… but not one said they wanted to go home.  NOT ONE.  And we woke up the next morning to a hillside full of happy campers.

I have taken hundreds of my own photos over the past few days but haven’t posted because I was worried about parents seeing their sons looking anything less than ecstatic.  Please know that I would never post a photo in which someone was even remotely upset.  If you see something questionable, please remember that some activities that might cause an expression to appear something other than ecstatic include but are not limited to squinting, thinking, sneezing, talking, and doing anything athletic.  Also realize that if someone followed you around with a camera all day— even on the best day of your life— you would not look ecstatic 100% of the time.  And if your child doesn’t appear in a photo one day, it is by no means an indication that he no longer here at camp, or that we couldn’t get him to smile.  It just means that he managed to avoid the photographer all day long.  Conversely, if someone else’s child appears multiple times, it is because he was doing something photo-worthy in front of the photographer, and not because we think he as a person is more worthy of photographing.  Please, please, please keep all of this in mind when you see photos from camp.  Some of these are just too good not to post, so I’m going for it and hope you enjoy and don’t overthink!

Your boys are AWESOME.  Thank you for sharing them with us.  Yesterday I stopped into one of the Soph B (youngest camper) bunks with a parent of one of our counselors.  She was surrounded by these little boys discovering Bauercrest for the first time and the nostalgia was palpable.  Like many of you, I am still at the point where I look at the older campers and counselors and cannot believe that one day, this is who my boys will be; but I have had a unique opportunity to spend time really getting to know the older contingency.  I have seen the way they take care of the little ones.  I have sat with them as they’ve taken everything they love about Bauercrest and transformed it into electives and bunk activities and Shabbat services.  Their passion for this place is contagious.  That’s how traditions are made.  And that’s why we’re here.

Speaking of traditions, I wanted to include Jeremy Rubin’s amazing sermon from yesterday’s services. I’m sure you’ll be as inspired as we were.

SERMON

First off, before I get into my sermon, I would like to thank Matt Caplan for giving me this honor to give not only the first sermon of the summer, but the first from 2k12. Giving a sermon at camp is a Crest-men’s one opportunity to address the entire camp with your undivided attention. With that being said, here goes nothing. A young 8 year old Jeremy Rubin stumbles onto the hillside, unsure of what to expect, as I waited for my tour of Camp Bauercrest in 2006. To this day I’m pretty sure I remember JKP giving me my tour around camp; the only thing I definitely remember from that day was seeing paintballs scattered throughout the lower field from Army/Navy day which must have occurred a few days prior. Previously, I had visited Avoda, where my cousin went to camp. Whether or not I knew this at the time, the choice I made to come to Bauercrest over Avoda turned out to be the best decision of my life.

The following summer I arrived at Bauercrest, with the Jared Schwartz as our group leader my Soph B year. I remember very little from my first year at camp, other than that I only stayed two weeks, that it rained the first 10 days I was at camp, and Boston, who was my counselor at the time, begged me to stay the entire first month. Honest to God, to this day I have no idea why I came back for a second year. I hated the food, my electives weren’t great, I wasn’t a factor in league and I didn’t stay long enough to enjoy some of the best days camp has to offer. I remember Harry Copeland and I used to count down the days until we could go home, yet for some reason I decided that coming back Soph A year was a good idea. For all the young camper’s listening, I was in your position and still turned out to love this place like a second home. Give camp a chance, be yourself and I’m sure you will have the time of your life on this hillside.

Now looking back, at nine years old I knew there was something special about this hillside. Soph A year opened my eyes to the true greatness that is Camp Bauercrest. In bunk two with Josh Keezer leading the Soph A.T.L I stayed only a month. In that month I was the captain of maybe the worst league team in history, leading my team to an easy last place finish. Soph A year showed me that being at camp is an opportunity to be part of something special. Although I definitely didn’t know it at the time, I felt that Bauercrest became a place I felt proud to call my second home, a place where I would meet some of the best friends in the world, and lastly a place that helped me grow up into the man I am today.

I’ve been here long enough to know how sermons work; staff trying to explain the magic behind this place while younger kids throw rocks and space out. Hopefully some older kids and the rest of staff listen. Instead of going through my time at camp year by year, sharing the endless memories and stories I think it’s best to boil this sermon down into one message that I hope resonates with at least a few of you. While making the transition from a camper to staff last summer, Brian Miller came and did a session with the staff members. I don’t remember most of what he said, but I remember he made us think about camp, and what we needed to do to make camp the best possible place. I came up with one word that I felt made camp the place it is today. The word I thought of was present, not a gift you give somebody but more the concept of being aware, active and optimistic in the moment. With the rest of my time up here today I’ll try my best to explain why being present is the most important part of a successful Bauercrest career.

My senior year Zach Kutchin took on the task of handling our entire group in one bunk, 32 people packed into bunk 19. It was this year where Kutchin displayed the epitome of being present. Some examples of this were blasting EDM and jamming out with whoever felt like joining in, or even leading a group of campers to saran-wrap Jonathan Kobert’s locker, only for him to find out that we actually switched his locker with an entirely different locker and he had taken a half hour of removing the saran wrap all for nothing. Another example is when Tyler Bial was locked into the bathroom stall and was sprayed with silly string, shaving cream and almost anything else we could find in the bunk to throw on him. Although these just seem like small pranks that were hilarious for a 14 year old to see, in reality it showed the impact that being present has on this hillside. It wasn’t a Euro game, color war or even cheering in the mess hall, but just finding ways to make fun when nothing other than Kutchin’s creativity and awareness were taking place. Without Kutchin as our group leader, to this day I wouldn’t understand the impact that being in the moment can have on not only my summer, but everyone else’s in camp. So before I give my long list of thank you’s in a short while, it’s important to acknowledge Kutchin for showing 2k12 how to make the most out of camp.
Being present isn’t limited to having fun in the moment, but also trying new things. Fast-forward to my waiter year, with the smallest councilor ever on this hillside Joshua Levy at the helm. I like to consider myself to be a pretty decent athlete, so even though I had never played basketball on a team, I went and tried out for the Senior hoops team. To this day I remember the first 15 minutes of the first day of tryouts; Ullian told everyone to line up on the baseline and run a suicide. Knowing that this was one of the few opportunities to show my ability, due to my lack of basketball experience, I ran as fast as I possibly could while everyone else ran at about 60%. Obviously I finished way ahead of others, subsequently making everyone else have to try much harder. Ullian saw my effort and stopped before the next suicide to thank me for pushing everybody else to try harder.  After a few tough days of tryouts, Ullian gave me probably the last spot on the team, purely because of my effort. I think I played a total of 10 minutes at most in the actual tournament, but to this day Ullian and I joke about the one three I have ever hit in a real basketball game at Camp YJ. Had I decided that I wasn’t good enough, and that trying out wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t have ever had the experience. For people still listening, I was present by trying something new, and as a result earned a spot on the team. Ullian, thanks for appreciating the effort I put in then, being a role model to me, as well as all the effort you put into camp throughout the years, this place wouldn’t be the same without you.

Being present isn’t limited to making unexpected fun or trying something new. CI year I learned a new definition of the word present. After winning the CI/Waiter game our CI year, 2k12 celebrated accordingly, especially as we avoided going 0-2. During those celebrations our whole year ran down to the lake and jumped in off the docks, then immediately ran all the way back up the hill to the SAC and jumped the fence to hop into the pool. I’m not going to use any names to spare feelings, but a member of 2k12 couldn’t jump over the fence. I swear on my life I have never seen our group as determined as we were to help the last member of 2k12 over the fence and into the SAC. During the time of celebration, we all stopped what we were doing to make sure everyone could enjoy the victory together, regardless of the fact that only 6 or 7 kids in the group actually had an impact on the game. Throughout my camp career I cannot think of a scenario more telling to being present and aware then helping out the last member of 2k12.
Being present is something that I strive to do at all times. Throughout the years I have seen my role models make the most out of camp by taking advantage of the opportunities they have. Camp provides the opportunity to be yourself, as goofy, funny, athletic or unathletic as you are. Look around the staff that keep camp running, not everyone is the funniest and most athletic in their group, but we all come back on staff because we get to be ourselves, hang out with our best friends while running the most beautiful place in the world. We all make the most out of our summers by being present, making the most out of every situation, and giving camp everything we have. I am going to make a promise that if you as a camper come into every day being present, you will have the best summer of your life.
To the people that gave me the opportunity to be back at camp the previous two summers. Eric, you have done an great job turning camp around, although you were never a camper here and may not know everything about this place, you bring everything you have which makes you a true Crest-man in my eyes. Joana, camp wouldn’t be able to run without you, at all, thank you for trusting me and putting me in positions to succeed at camp. Lutchen, no words can really describe how important you are to camp. Thanks for dragging me back to here after I missed my CIT year, I can’t imagine being any place other than Bauercrest the past two summers.

To the remaining 2k11, although I’m not as close with most of you as I want, you have done an unbelievable job running camp the past few summers. I look up to each of you in different ways and wouldn’t be the same person without your influence. Thanks for all the personality you bring to camp and showing the rest of us the bonds that this hillside can create.

To 2k13, 2k14 and the Current CI’s, you guys have a ton of potential in your groups. You guys are really the future of camp and I can’t wait to see how you guys take over.

To 2k12, I don’t really know what to say to you guys. Dalpert, Caplan, Shapiro, Harry, Zach, Danny, Dylan, Adam; it may be cliche but who would have thought that it would be down to us to keep 2k12’s legacy going. The memories are endless and I wouldn’t have wanted to share them with anyone else. You guys are my best friends in the world.

To Mom and Dad, I know you aren’t very connected to this place but I hope this showed you how much it means to me. Thank you for pushing me to come here when I was 8 years old and continuing to send me back each summer since. I can’t imagine not having Bauercrest in my life.

Now last but definitely not least, time for some Dot Dots… RJB.. Jesus Shuttlesworth.. Sweet 16.. Falling out of the truck.. Hands.. What if I bet on Matt Light.. Kill the meat.. last man standing.. Taco night selfie.. Leaf Blowers.. Adam’s 3 Iphones.. Shawction.. Dragon Slayer.. Greenburg ruining harry potter.. Korin.. The Max Bash Stash.. Wrestling Camp.. Butter on the ceiling.. Doctor Thunder.. Waiter Head Ted.. BDB.. Jon Bell ‘76..

Our hope is that everyone here has already started collecting “Dot Dots” of their own.  Watch the video below to catch a little glimpse into our first few days.  So many more to come. Enjoy!

: )
Stacy

YouTube video

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Stacy Pollack

Stacy writes our popular Dear Camp Mom blog and works year-round to ensure that Bauercrest creates memorable experiences for parents and campers alike. She also creates photo montages inspired by songs most of our campers have never heard before but make the parents very nostalgic.

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