Shalom! My name is Rachael Pass and I’m the Geza Unit Head (Geza is our unit for rising 7th and 8th graders). My favorite part of the summer every session is, and always has been, Geza’s Yom Tiyul—our two-day, offsite camping trip. Traditionally, we go off camp to a national park, lay out two giant tarps on the ground (one for boys and one for girls) and sleep under the open stars. I’ve always told staff that Yom Tiyul is where we learn the true meaning of “flexibility” and “going with the flow,” because something always, always changes during the trip. This year has been no exception. Saturday night, the night before we were meant to leave for the trip, we checked the weather and realized that it would be a heat index of 110ºF both days of Tiyul at our planned campsite.
So Saturday night, Geza leadership staff (Jake Klingensmith, Jillian Shkolnick, and myself) re-planned the entire trip so we could stay on camp and be safe with the weather. We came up with the idea to go see the new movie Brave, which is based in Scotland, and plan the entire two-day program around the theme “Yom Chai-land,” centered around the Scottish Highlands. At lunch on Sunday Jake, Jillian and I ran through the Chadar Ochel (our dining hall) with orange spray-painted hair and homemade kilts to the sound of bagpipes, announcing to Geza our Scottish theme.
After lunch the whole unit “transformed into Scotsmen” through a series of silly rotations about Scottish culture, accents, dancing and sports. Once the “transformation” was complete, we divided the campers into four Scottish clans, led by their counselors, where they created their own kilts, cheers, and family histories. The clans were McIntosh, MacGuff, Dingwall and Dunbroch, each complete with their own color and kilts. Seeing the campers running around the Mercaz Tarbut in homemade kilts was definitely a highlight of the program.
After some free swim at the pool and dinner with camp, Geza gathered at “Geza Grounds” behind our medurah, campfire, for our own private t’fillot, services. At the end of t’fillot, we circled around a clump of battery-operated lanterns (Indiana is still on a fire-ban) for Geza campfire, where we heard stories and sang along with our songleaders. After eating some s’mores, we got to “camp out” in our Mercaz Tarbut, the Ronald A. Klotz Performing Arts Center. Everyone enjoyed sleeping on the floor in the air conditioning!
Monday began with cooking out breakfast in cabin groups, making Rock Mountain Toast on the Old Pool. We then bussed to the movie theatre and saw Brave—everyone enjoyed having the theatre to ourselves! Our afternoon was filled with our “Chai-land Games” and some “Loch Ness Monster Attacks” at the pool, and we ended the trip eating dinner and ice cream sundaes outside and listening to live bagpipe music from Ari Ballaban, our Jewish Education Specialist.
Overall, Yom Tiyul was a crazy success, and everyone loved the silly Scottish theme and the fun games that accompanied it!