How to succeed at bringing camp values back to your home without even trying.
butz blog
We have been in Kibbutz HaTzofim Bet for over a week and the chanichim (campers) and Madrichim (counselors) are settling into their groove.  When your chanichim come home happy and tired this Sunday here are few things we think you can incorporate into your family discussion:
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  • Helping out in our community:  In Tzofim we helped each other out all day every day.  Your child has been on Meal prep: setting the tables and doing some easy food prep, clean up: cleaning our eating areas and doing dishes as well as Nikayon (general clean up).  Most days, except Shabbat, we give Nikayon scores to every Ohel, tent.  Chanichim work very hard to earn top scores by organizing their belongings and making their beds!
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  • D’bar Ivrit: Speak Hebrew every day: Your child will come home with dozens of new Hebrew vocabulary words.  Ask them their favorite words and write them on note cards to post around the house.
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  • Enhancing spirituality:  Our chanichim have all prepared daily t’filot, services, for our community.  Through their beautiful words and images they lead us in prayer.  They also began every meal with the Motzi prayer and end every meal with the Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals. Try adding  the blessing over the bread on Fridays to make Shabbat a little more special.  butz blog 8
  • Being kind to animals and tending the garden: Our chanichim take care of all of the animals in our refet, farm.  They feed them, pet them and as they answered when we asked, “we hang out with them”.  Chanichim also tend our garden by watering, weeding, and hoeing the ground.  They attend to these duties every day except on Shabbat.
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  • Trying something new:  Our limud, leaning activities has revolved around heroes and we encouraged our chanichim to try something new every day.  They climbed Etgar our high ropes course and were challenged on our low ropes course where they had to spot one another as the ropes were about one-foot off the ground.  We have more surprises for the end of our week and be sure to ask your chanich about what super power they chose for their cape. Try to keep the challenge going at home and plan something small for you and your child to try that is different from your everyday routine. 
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  • Ending the day: Every Ohel, tent (and in other eidot, units, this happens as well) our Madrichim create a special experience for our chanichim.  Every night “lights out” is different.  It could be “meet the Madrich”, story time, music or just about anything that will calm chanichim and bring them together as a chevre, friend group. Most of the girls Ohelim sing the moon song (ask them about it!) and all of the Ohelim end the day with singing Shema together.  We know that when your child gets home they will miss their friends, their madrichim and saying good night in this special way.
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We are so proud of everything that we have taught, learned and experienced over these past two weeks.  Don’t be afraid to ask your child to clean up their room, do the dishes, set the table or try out something new.  They may be ready for a new pet or to help out in your garden.  They have been all doing these activities and so many more and we hope they will continue their quest for enriching their Jewish identity, friendship connections and independence.

Vanessa M. Ehrlich is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park, Illinois. Nicole A. Jahr is Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth El Madison, Wisconsin. Together, they proudly serve as Segel for Tzofim Bet.