Camp Mesorah, a Modern Orthodox sleepaway camp located in Guilford, New York, celebrated its milestone 30th year this summer. Led by owner/Director Rabbi Ari Katz and Director of Campuses Deena Katz, Mesorah marked the anniversary with special guests, events and programs. In addition, over the past several summers Mesorah has undertaken major renovations on camper bunks, sports fields and a new dining room, all leading up to its anniversary year.
“This 30th anniversary is a very exciting occasion,” Ari explained. “To celebrate, besides the outstanding programming, phenomenal concerts and night activities that we have every year, we also brought speakers and special guests to interact with our campers, to make an impression on them about being a Torah Jew. These speakers all elevated our campers’ experiences this summer.”
For Tisha B’Av, Mesorah hosted Steve Gar, an oleh from South Africa and a counterterrorism expert, who talked to the campers about his love for Eretz Yisrael and the importance of defending Eretz Yisrael. Michael Redd, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks, came for three days and led basketball clinics for the campers and discussed with them how to play competitive sports with sportsmanship and middot. On Israel Day, Eli Beer, founder and director of United Hatzalah in Israel, came and talked about what United Hatzalah does and the great value of every Jew, no matter where they live, contributing to the growth of Eretz Yisrael. In addition, in honor of the 30th summer, Mesorah campers and staff raised money to dedicate a defibrillator for United Hatzalah.
For parents considering registering their children, Deena Katz, who oversees the boys and girls campuses, explained that Mesorah is a welcoming environment with a staff that makes it a priority to make a connection with each and every one of their campers. “We never want our campers to feel like they are just going through the motions, just going to their scheduled activities,” Deena remarked. “They’re not just here experiencing the summer: Every activity that they’re going to, whether it’s basketball or swim, culinary or soccer, is about building character. In their interactions with their counselors, with our specialty staff, our campers are constantly getting an ‘informal education’ that helps them build important skills they’ll use later in their lives. This all happens while they’re also having an amazing summer at camp.”
“And,” Deena said, “let’s not forget the fantastic programming we have for our campers. Our daily schedule is filled with exciting camper activities that they enjoy every day: hockey, culinary, zipline/outdoor adventure course, basketball, art, drama, flag football, fencing, soccer, Zumba, ceramics and so much more! Plus, our night activities and ‘special days,’ such as Crud Wars, MFL, trip days, X-Games, Payday, carnivals!”
When it comes to Ari’s favorite part of Mesorah, he explained that it’s watching the campers’ daily growth. As he said, the most rewarding part of his job is seeing campers leave the summer stronger and more self-confident than when they arrived.
“Mesorah is a camp that gets better and better each and every year,” Ari continued. “Progress is a difficult thing to measure, but we see it when past campers are excited to send their own kids to us for the summer, previous campers who apply to be staff at Mesorah and tell their friends it’s the best camp to work at—it’s really meaningful when we see moments like these. We have had amazing accomplishments over the past 30 years at Mesorah, and now we are focusing on the next 30 years that start now.”
Mesorah is currently accepting registrations for Mesorah 2020; the deadline for the early bird special is October 30. To learn more or register, go to www.campmesorah.com. For any questions, call 845-362-7778 or email at [email protected]
By Adam Samuel
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.