Camp Gan Israel Florida recently completed its 7th successful summer, noting a record-attendance of over 130 campers.
Under the direction of Rabbis Yossi Biston and Yossi Goldblatt, campers were treated to luxurious accommodations and breathtaking grounds. Camp’s very own ‘Chef Nissen’ ensured that all meals were nutritious, delicious and in plenty. A fully-serviced salad bar offered an optional menu for those sensitive to certain foods.
The daily schedule boasted all the trimmings that one would expect from any Gan Israel overnight; Cocoa Club and Mishnayos Be’al, Learning Classes & Kluger competition, sports and league competition, swimming, Night Activities & the occasional late nights.
In addition, campers were treated to several projects and staples that made their summer in CGI Florida unique and memorable:
Topping off that list was ‘The Rebbe’s Siddur’ – the highlight of the summer. The brainchild of Head Counselors Avremi Zippel and Motti Harlig, campers who excelled in Tefilas Shacharis earned the chance to daven Pesukei D’Zimra from the Rebbe’s Siddur the following morning.
The goal of the program – to stimulate and add a chayus in the davening of each child throughout the summer, and for Tefilas Shacharis in particular – was met with tremendous success.
In addition, campers who earned the privilege to daven from the Rebbe’s Siddur, were entered into a raffle at the end of the session for the chance to win a ‘Dollar’ handed out by the Rebbe. A total of two ‘Dollars’ were raffled off; one per session.
The program left an indelible impression on both campers and staff and contributing significantly to the overall Chassidishkeit of the camp; as a topic of discussion amongst the campers and as something they would anticipate and aspire towards, for the following morning.
Another program unique to camp is its Tzivos Hashem program. Campers were encouraged by their Counselors and Learning Teachers in their adherence to a defined set of Mitzvos and hanhagos, earning them valuable points towards their rank. Campers were also presented with the chance to customize their own weekly ‘missions’, which they would fill out at the end of each day. These missions helped each camper grow at his level. The program was lovingly dedicated anonymously L’Ilui Nishmas HaRav HaChossid Yaakov Immanuel ben HaRav Dov Yehuda Schochet a”h.
In what has become a staple in Florida, every outing saw campers seeking out Yidden willing to put on Tefillin. Be it a bowling alley, skating rink, water or amusement park. Campers would find Jews and, with the help of their staff, encourage them to put on Tefillin. Their enthusiasm was met with much success.
Another camp classic met with much clamor and hype was the camp’s yearly “Rebbe Album”. This summer focused on the Jewish and Chassidishe Yomim Tovim throughout the year; each card represented a date in the Jewish/Chassidic calendar with historic and background information for that date. (For inquiries or to order sets for your school, email the camp at [email protected]).
All the above is in addition to all the many surprises campers were treated to; a concert by the 8th Day Band, a Monster Truck presentation (both reported on COLlive), Bunk War for the older bunks of camp, and a Color War breakout masked in the form of a Benny Friedman concert, which left campers in utter shock and disbelief (too shocked to even say, “I knew it the whole time!”)
“It is our hope that the summer’s success serve as a springboard and catalyst for the Rebbe’s camp, to continue to go from strength to strength in the future.” said Rabbi Biston. “As we move on to the next chapter in the camp’s history, with the opening of a new campus next summer, it is our hope to build and grow even more, for many years to come, giving the Rebbe much-deserved nachas.”
Indeed, may the Rebbe derive much nachas from the campers and staff. And may all the good done this summer amongs all Gan Israels, bring out the coming of Moshiach, where we will be able to turn to the Rebbe and say: “Re’u Gedolim ShaGidalnu.”