Camp Machane Heights concluded its 5775 summer season with a late night and Grand Banquet for parents and campers at the Lubavitch Yeshiva ballroom in Crown Heights.
Beautiful awards were presented to the campers, there were videos presentation of the summer’s favorite activities and trips, stirring speeches by campers and heartfelt remarks by impressed parents.
Machane Heights Day Camp, better known as the Biking Camp, combines the traditional summer camp schedule of davening, learning classes, sports and grand trips learning with frequent biking hikes. The camp was founded three years ago by veteran educator and General Studies principal, Rabbi Peretz Blasberg and is based at United Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Crown Street. The camp attracts boys from ages about 9-15, from the Crown Heights neighborhood and across the city. Interestingly, bunks are not divided by age group, rather, the boys are placed in teams to be equally even in athletic ability, learning, and leadership skills.
For the highlight of the evening, head counselor Dovid Blasberg distributed specially designed camp awards and prizes to celebrate those bunks and individuals who distinguished themselves. Campers’ accomplishments in literally every activity in camp were recognized. Learning, davening, sportsmanship, Ahavas Yisroel, midos tovos, no category of good behavior was missed. The campers were presented with beautiful trophies, golden medallions, framed pictures of the Rebbe, sets of seforim and the latest drone flyers amid applause from the crowd of parents.
Throughout the summer, the boys competed in sport leagues where sportsmanship was given priority. Dovid Blasberg described an incident that he would not forget. “It was during the final baseball series and one team was far behind. I overheard these boys who were losing badly begging their team captain to allow their best batters to be substituted instead of following the regular line-up. This young team captain, himself only a small boy, answered them, ‘Everything is not about winning a game. Everybody’s going to get their turn.’ Was I impressed!”
“Another time, one morning after davening a camper came up to me and said, ‘You know whenever our team prays really well we win our games.’
“‘How do you know that?’ I asked the camper.
“He replied, ‘Because the other day, three of our boys were announced Best Daveners after Minyan and later they each scored during sports. But yesterday, when no one in our bunk was awarded Best Davener, not one of us scored.’
“You just can’t make this stuff up,” concluded Blasberg.
One of the parents who spoke, R. Raphael Levy of Forest Hills, remarked that the camp was really all he was told it would be and much more. He said that his boys who until now have attended yeshiva in Queens, have had a great time here. They made new friends and had fun learning in a chassidishe setting.
“When I was younger, I grew up in Queens, but my family spent a lot of time by the Rebbe here in Crown Heights,” Levy related. “I always wished I could find a way to also give my children a feeling of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s way in Yiddishkeit,” said R. Levy. “This camp did it for us. It gave my boys a sense of what Chabad is all about. Now I feel that I have brought my children to the Rebbe, now it’s up to them to become Chassidim themselves.”
The father of one highly decorated second year camper, 10 year old Liam Sagi, who recently arrived from Eretz Israel, was impressed. “The staff believed in my son. They encouraged him in everything. They recognized his talents, how he is a good soccer player, how he speaks great Hebrew, how well he davens. Believe me, this camp has not only been the best summer camp my son has ever attended, but it’s been the best experience in his life, in our life.”
One parent said, “I’ve never seen such an amazing banquet with so much attention being showered on the boys. This is a great experience that they will remember for a long time. And did I mention the delicious dinner?”
Rabbi Blasberg concluded the awards ceremony by presenting his son Dovid Blasberg with a special award for dedicated service and having been the backbone of the camp. “All the counselors did a great job and while Dovid’s official job was head-counselor, he also designed the learning program. He was truly the backbone of the camp,” he said.
As the boys grow physically and spiritually camp is supposed give a feeling of wellbeing to the campers and maybe more importantly as sense of nachas to their family. It must be the case. Rabbi Blasberg says, “I am very happy that the banquet has boasted 100% parent attendance in the past three years, and tonight was no different.”
For more information on Camp Machane Heights email [email protected]