Herzl Camp’s Alumni Weekend is a Success

Hey everyone, if you were unable to make the incredible Alumni Camp at Herzl Camp this past weekend, don’t fret, Alex Locke has recorded the entire weekend’s details.  I’ve extrapolated them from his blog and posted below.  After reading his post, I am even more upset that I missed it.  Granted, Jaime and Jason’s  wedding in DC was well worth it and tons of fun (post coming tomorrow), but you read the below from Alex and tell me you aren’t jealous!  Mike

From Alex Locke’s Blog:  Well, I got home from Alumni Camp at Herzl, and it was AWESOME!!! First, it was so fun to be back. Second, it was great to share this part of my life with Chad. Now when I say “After Havdalah we will do Rad Hayom before we head to the Mo for Oneg,” he will know exactly what that means. So here is a re-cap of the weekend…

The drive up to camp was pretty typical. That said… there are a lot of housing developments that have popped up. Some of the towns you drive through have also been built up. Of course, we stopped at the Drive-In for lunch. I had my favorite… hot fudge banana malt. It was as delish as I remember.

When we got to camp, we were greeted by a few people singing “Ay veynu shalom alechem.” That set the tone for the weekend. We went up to our room, unpacked, and then we took our first walk around camp. We went to all of mine and Missy’s cabins. I saw all of the plaques I made as a staff member with my campers in Vav, 17, 20, and 25 (not sure why we did not make one when I was an ozo for 7). I also showed Chad the ozo mo…. shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! We went into the haks and got pretty grossed out and then spent a little time at the Mercaz. Some things never change… like the beauty at the Mercaz. Other things do change… I used to be fine showering in the haks, now I would feel like a need a shower to clean off after showering in there.

After the tour, we relaxed and got ready for Shabbat. Everyone was dressed in white and we had the traditional Shabbat Caravan. It was so fun to be there again… it had been 12 years since I was last on staff. As always, the caravan ended at the flag circle. Though they no longer use the Canadian flag nor sing O Canada, we did for old times sake. Now, they use a Herzl flag and sing the Herzl song, which is pretty cool too. After a few flag songs, and lowering the flags, we headed to services. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we had services indoors, but they were still nice. Following services we had the traditional Herzl Shabbat dinner… matzo ball soup, salad, challah, chicken, and those little potato thingies.

When dinner was over, the lights went down, and we had our candlelight song session. It was so great!!!! I did miss seeing people walking through the aisles though. After dinner, we went to the staff mo, and it was time for Oneg. Essentially, we all sat around sharing favorite Herzl memories or hilarious stories. It was so fun just listening… and sharing a few as well. Chad said this was his favorite part of the weekend… though he truly loved the entire time and wants to go back again. Finally, it was time for bed… Saturday was a BIG day.

What better way to start a Saturday morning at camp then with an optional breakfast starring the sweet rolls. DELISH!!!! After breakfast we got showered and headed to services… again indoors due to rain. When services were over, it was time for rotations, and thankfully the sun was out. Chad and I did not do any one thing in particular… we watched and observed. We took another walk around camp. We went to the waterfront… damn there is a lot of beach. They say it is the lowest the lake has been in 37 years. Those who remember the lake would not believe what it looks like now. After some time at the waterfront, we went to ozo park and watched 30 year old men pretend to be 20 year-olds playing ultimate frisbee. That was highly entertaining, though I will say… some of ’em still have it. Next we went over to the Mercaz to watch all the people boating. It was a beautiful view. Finally, we went into Cabin 13 where I was Papa Ozo and we found on the wall all of the notes my ozos wrote me. It was so fun to see those and be reminded of that summer.

Next up… Picnic lunch with the addition of grilled cheese. We all wanted the picnic lunch experience, but were not willing to give up the yummy goodness that is grilled cheese. As soon as lunch was over, we started singing ozo songs. We went as far back as 1979 and did every year of ozo songs that had a representative at Alumni Camp. Thankfully, we did not do Kadimah songs!! After the songs, it was time to start with B-I-K-K-U-R-I-M… Bikkurim.

It began with a watermelon seed spitting contest, then ga-ga, and then the marathon which included a human pyramid, saltine whistling, b-ball free throws, the rock wall, the kadimah wall, walking an egg with a spoon, a lot of running, and so much more. After that, it was tug-o-war. We are just not as young as we once were. Everyone got pooped, so it was time for a break before finishing off with kickball. Bikkurim was a ton of fun!

Next we went and rested for a little bit before it was time for dinner. It was the traditional kugel, eggs, salad, and blintzes dinner followed by Eskimo Pies with peanut butter. Delish (how many times can I say that)!!! After dinner we were treated to a brief but funny version of 12 Gates. By then it was already time for evening program, which I was leading. We first did Comedy Sportz, then a sing down, and finally an awesome game of Aleph You Too. I have never seen a bra come off that fast!!!! After the games, it was time for the big announcement of who won Bikkurim. For once, I was on the winning Red team!!!! Face it, Blue always loses… another Herzl tradition.

Once evening program was over, it was time for havdallah lead by the ’99 ozrim. Then, it was time for the Pour House. Unfortunately, it is the post-tornado Pour House, but none the less we had a good time. I got my root beer in a frosty mug, did a little dancing, and had a fun night watching Stella take on NASCAR. When we got back to camp, it was a bonfire at the Ner Howie, then a little star gazing at the Mercaz before Chad and I got scared we were going to be eaten by a bear. So, we returned to the bonfire for a few minutes, and finally went to bed after 1:00. I have not stayed up that late for years.

Sunday morning, we slept in past breakfast, bought $80 worth of Herzl regalia (and I still think I want one of those blankets) toured camp one last time where Chad took a picture of all my plaques and notes from my ozos, and with that, Alumni Camp was over.

It was truly an incredible weekend. I would do it again in a second, though I don’t think it should be every year. I feel that might take away from it being a unique and special experience. So…. my recommendation is every five years, add one extra day, and cap it at 75, because anymore would lose the intimacy.

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