The Sunset of the Sunrise…From Gan to Graduation
There is a beautiful song by Israeli songwriter Rami Fortis called “The Sunset of the Sunrise.” I thought a lot about that song this morning as I chatted and photographed a very special group of Nivonimers. What was special about this particular group was that they have been together in Machaneh Ramah since they were very young children starting their Ramah careers as staff kids and campers in the Gan. This morning for them was not only emotional because their time as chanichim is drawing to a close, but also because this morning we took a stroll down memory lane, which for most of them was over a decade here at Machaneh Ramah. We started taking some pictures after aruchat boker (breakfast) outside the chadar ochel (dining hall). My thought was to get some great pictures of them to talk a little about their days as campers in the gan and then they would be on their way.
They plan quickly changed. As soon as we started talking. They were all sharing stories and memories starting from their time in gan, from being on tzad aleph (A-side) then graduating to tzad bet (B-side). As they talked, they became more and more nostalgic and one of the Nivonimers said: “I want to go back and see the Gan where I began this journey.” Next thing we knew we were on our way back to tzad aleph to the gan. It was quite the sight- a group on Nivonimers running towards the gan with such purpose and excitement. They arrived at the gan and were happily recalling where their cubbies had been, their favorite toys, and how they have so many amazing memories from that very special place.
The current gan children were delighted to see all the big kids, and our time together ended with the Nivonimers and the gan children playing together on the swing set. Today was really “The Sunset of the Sunrise.” It was the setting of one time in these chanichim’s lives but the rising of another. How glorious it can be to watch both a sunsetting and a sun rising. Both happen at different times but on a very special occasion like today we got to see it happen at once.
Here is what the Nivonimers and current Rosh Gan had to say~
Tova said, “I feel like camp had a big part in raising me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”
Dalia said, “being in Gan really catalyzed my love for camp, and 14 years later that love has only grown.”
Kayla said, “starting camp as such a young age has given me the tools to be able to succeed in so many areas of life.”
Leah said, “it’s been great seeing camp evolve over the past nine years.”
Aaron said, “it feels really special because it’s been a long journey.”
Sara said, “it’s crazy we’ve made it this far, it’s been fun.”
Gabe said, “I feel proud to have been in camp for so many years.”
Micah said, “every summer I can remember I’ve been at camp and it feels weird to think next summer I won’t.”
Kathy Schwartz head of the Gan said, “It was incredible to watch the kids in Nivonim return to their roots in Gan. Knowing that they began their Ramah journey in the place where I have worked the last six summers as Rosh gives me such pride, happiness, and encouragement. You could see the way this year’s Gan kids were looking up to them with a sparkle in their eyes. You could almost hear them thinking, ‘That could be me one day.’ My own son finally went into a bunk in Kochavim this year after spending 6 summers in the Gan. By the time he is in Nivonim, he will have spent 15 summers at Ramah. I am so inspired by the journey of these campers and it is amazing to think about the role that the Gan played in their lives.”