Report from the Jewish Girls Winter Retreat
by Meira Goldberg and the JGR Creative Writing Club
Nestled in Lake George at Dunham’s Bay Resort, the girls at the five-day Jewish Girls Winter Retreat know how to stay warm even during a snowstorm.
Arriving late Wednesday afternoon, the campers were warmly welcomed by staff members before heading into the resort to play “getting-to-know-you” games. They then had an exciting treasure hunt to introduce the retreat theme, “Hidden Treasures.”
After that, they enjoyed a quick swim and ate an amazing dinner prepared by Rabbi Michael Caras, our chef, and his assistants. They then went to their cabins and settled down for their first night at JGR.
Thursday was filled with many different learning opportunities, including “Cocoa Club” with JGR director, Mrs. Nechama Laber, inspiring GROW workshops, special time with staff mentors and bunk time each night.
As staff member Samara Harris said, “the retreat really rejuvenates you spiritually. It touches your neshama (soul).” In addition, campers participated in performing arts clubs and spent much time enthusiastically preparing for fellow camper Kira Gold’s Bat Mitzvah celebration.
Shabbos was a wonderful experience to follow up Friday’s theme of “The Four C’s” that are special for women: challah, candles, children and clothing.
Mrs. Chava Shapiro enhanced Kabbalas Shabbos with her beautiful singing and taught the choir workshop two inspiring songs. Campers were also given the opportunity to ask questions from a panel, including staff members Chana Felberman, Rivky Shuchat, Batsheva Goldberg, Samara Harris, and Leah Caras, JGR’s fabulous program director and YALDAH founder and publisher. The experience was enjoyed by all.
Shabbos passed by too quickly, and then the staff members got busy putting together the finishing touches on the Chinese Auction to benefit the retreat’s scholarship fund. After a wonderful Melave Malka, a talent show and ice cream sundaes, the entire camp joined together for a candle-lighting ceremony and to talk about their favorite parts of the retreat.
Camper Deanna Ryder lit her candle and said that, “there are some times when I feel like I’m alone and no one needs me. And then I come here and everyone wants me, and everyone needs me, and it’s the nicest feeling ever.”
She was right. Everyone at the retreat treasures each and every girl.
Counselor Shaindy Horowitz emphasized this as she lit her candle. “I’ve never seen so many girls who are so naturally good and respectful. You don’t have to dig for diamonds here; they’re lying out in the open!”
After the moving ceremony, older campers ended off the night with a splash as they headed to the pool for night swim. After a good night’s sleep, JGR headed for the last activity, snowtubing, before returning to Albany, where they had to say their goodbyes, at least until the Summer Retreat. As camper Shira Siegel put it, “This is the place where Heaven and earth meet!”
For more information about the Jewish Girls Retreat visit www.JewishGirlsRetreat.com.