There is a famous dictum that states: “Kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are hard.” While it is definitely true that the beginning of a new venture or initiative can bring about some major challenges, it is also true that the beginning is a time of tremendous excitement, energy and buzz.
There was tremendous hype building up toward the inaugural summer of NCSY RTC, NCSY’s newest summer program for boys entering ninth and 10th grade. A main focus going into the summer was trying to match the anticipatory hype with the authentic excitement of the up-and-running program. With the inaugural summer of NCSY RTC behind us, I am proud to report that we did it! After a full and exhilarating three weeks of daily basketball and football leagues, inter-camps against Morasha, amusement parks, white water rafting, paintball, mountain biking, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, MLB baseball games, a Jets-Giants pre-season football game, Guppy Gulch Aqua Park, Dave and Busters, Whirleyball, laser tag, trampoline parks, the NFL Hall of Fame, ice skating/broomball, night swimming and so much more, the boys are still on a high from the non-stop experience of fun and excitement.
You can tell a lot about a program based on the faces of the campers when you observe them. When you see smiling faces and laughter among old and new friends, you know that the summer is going well. However, at times, there is something extra that you can feel. Sometimes you can walk into a place and there is a unique electrifying energy. Then you know there is something really special going on—something magnificent and extraordinary. This is RTC.
All of the fun and excitement notwithstanding, the most beautiful and meaningful part of RTC, for me, was watching the NCSYers interact with the all-star lineup of madrichim. The madrichim came from similar backgrounds as the boys and they are only a few years older than them. Through the chaburah learning and other informal educational opportunities, the madrichim served as paradigmatic examples of what it looks like to have a lot of fun and take sports seriously on the one hand, while also being a growth-oriented ben Torah on the other hand. In addition to the incredible madrichim, we were privileged to have Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, Rabbi Chaim Marcus, and Rabbi Ezra Wiener join us by giving shiurim each week. The first week, Rabbi Wiener gave shiurim on topics pertaining to Torah (more specifically, becoming a ben Torah). For the second week, Rabbi Lebowitz gave shiurim on topics about avodah (davening), and during the third week, Rabbi Marcus gave shiurim on topics about gemilut chasadim. The rabbis’ engaging shiurim and words of Torah, coupled with their authentic care and concern for each and every camper, was an invaluable asset to our program and the growth that our NCSYers experienced throughout the program.
When asked about her son’s experience on RTC, RTC parent Nomi Rotblat (Teaneck) commented, “Our son had a terrific time as a camper on RTC. It was most amazing to see how the program was both fun and growth-oriented at the same time. In addition to having a great time with his friends, Sariel also bonded with the madrichim who were wonderful role models for him. The Tisha B’Av shabbaton and program were especially inspiring, giving the boys an opportunity to relate to Tisha B’av in a meaningful and relevant way.” When asked about his experience on RTC, camper Shabtai Kaplan (Sharon, Massachusetts) commented, “When I signed up for RTC, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Would I have fun? Would I make friends? After three weeks of RTC, I realized that this summer was everything I had hoped it would be and more. The wide variety of activities and trips, the intense sports leagues and the incredible shiurim and chaburas made this a summer I will never forget.”
The New Jersey parlor meeting will take place on Motzei Shabbos, September 21, at 9:15 p.m., at the home of Terri and Yitzy Karasick, 75 Thames Boulevard in Bergenfield. The Long Island parlor meeting will take place on Sunday night, September 22, at 8 p.m. at the home of Beth and Naftali Bennett, 6 Chestney Road in Lawrence, New York.
By Avi Rosalimsky