A Day in the Life of Mainside
with Nathan, a typical first-time camper
Rise and shine!
Wake up, wake up! Nathan and his Mountainview cabin-mates hop out of bed with encouragement from his counselor Josh, who grew up at SLC. “Yallah, let’s go, everybody get those teeth brushed!” urges Yoni, his other counselor, who comes from Israel. Just before 8am, everyone heads up to Round Up, in front of the Dining Hall, for some energetic songs and cheers. This is Nathan’s first summer here, and he loves how the fun begins right away each day.
All of Mainside goes into the Dining Hall together. Nathan and his group, along with Josh and Yoni, sit together at their table. After a quick motzei blessing, which they say before every meal, they dig in: cinnamon buns with fresh fruit, one of his favorites! One of his friends heads to the Breakfast Bar for yogurt and more fruit. Another, whose diet is gluten-free, serves himself a bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup and raisins, an option that is always available. Before they leave, together they say the bierkat blessing, just like after every meal. Some kids arrived at camp already knowing all the words; Nathan is singing along and quickly learning.
The boys return to their cabin to tidy up their beds and cubbies and get ready for the morning’s activities. Nathan checks the day’s schedule: they’ve got Basketball, then Adventure, then Teva/Nature. “Everyone have your sneakers on?” asks Yoni. Everyone moves outside to put on sunscreen. Josh makes sure everyone reaches the back of their necks and ears.
In Basketball, the coach runs some warm-ups then works on technique. After some silly speed relays and a shooting contest, the group plays a quick game to finish off the period. They take a water break, then head over to Adventure. Today they’re on some Low Ropes challenges; next time, Josh says, they’ll get to fly on the Zip Line! Afterwards, they stop by the Dining Hall to grab some fresh fruit as a snack. Then it’s over to Teva/Nature to check out some lizards and experiment with focusing sunlight through magnifying glasses to put a hole in a leaf.
At 1pm, everyone troops to the Dining Hall and their group table. On the menu today: grilled cheese. Nathan’s parents would be amazed to see him make a salad at the Salad Bar, where fresh mixed greens, assorted vegetables, tofu, beans, sundried tomatoes and lots of dressings are always available. Lunch ends with a frozen Italian ice, and, of course, the bierkat blessing.
Rest and Relax
After lunch, it’s time for hafsakah, rest hour—well, really 45 minutes. Nathan and his group return to the cabin. Some of his friends write letters and listen to music. Nathan, Yoni, and a couple other kids grab a ball for a leisurely catch outside. Then everyone puts on their swimsuits, grabs their towels and puts on more sunscreen because it’s time to…
Go to the lake! His group has Boating now. Nathan puts on a lifevest so that he and a friend can take out a boat. Josh comes along for the ride, to teach them how to use the sail and and steer. They go all the way across the lake and back. Now it’s time for Specialty, the activity Nathan picked to do three times each week. He’s rehearsing for the Mainside musical, Aladdin, which they will perform for the whole camp on the Eddie Cantor Theater stage that overlooks the lake. His friends have picked other Specialties: Soccer, Arts & Crafts, and Farm, for example. At 4pm the whole Unit meets up for a snack. Today they have granola bars. On really hot days, they have a cold treat. Then they head over for General Swim in the pool!
Nathan and his group head back to the cabin to change before dinner and relax a bit. Dinner is at 6:15pm. Tonight is a barbecue, so everyone eats outside together. Even the Salad Bar is moved outside. Nathan likes this meal, but his favorite is the special Shabbat dinner: matzoh ball soup, brisket, vegetables, and homemade pie.
After dinner, there’s one more activity! The whole Unit takes part. What will be tonight? Could be Round Robin Sports, a Pool Party, or a Scavenger Hunt… Tonight it’s All-Camp Choice, with options all over camp. Nathan’s older brother is on Teenside, so he’ll get to say hi. At the end, the whole camp gathers by the lake for one of Nathan’s favorite experiences at camp: “nestling.” Everyone joins in a circle, holds crossed hands, and sings the camp song, which starts with “Nestled ‘neath the shady trees, Lies our camp so dear….” It’s a beautiful time for reflection a few times each week, and one that Nathan knows he’ll think back on all year.
Cabin Time and Lights Out
After this full day, Nathan is ready for bed. His group and counselors are back in their cabin by 8:30pm to shower, clean up, and catch up. When they are all settled in, Josh and Yoni tell them about tomorrow’s activities and everyone checks in and talks about their day. Sometimes Josh reads a chapter from a book or Yoni tells them a story from his life in Israel. Tonight they all sing a quiet song, then turn out the light at 9:30pm.
Journey over to Teenside
Experience a Day in the Life of Rachel, camper for three years.