What’s a typical day at GFC?
From wake-up to lights-out, the daily schedule is designed to both offer a full day of camp activities while also meeting the “lifestyle” needs of the various age groups at camp. Though there is no such thing as a “typical” day at URJ Greene Family Camp, check out some of the highlights below.
Wake-up: Though camp has not bought that giant alarm clock yet (the British just wouldn’t part with Big Ben), everyone at GFC (except for our three oldest units who get to sleep in an hour) wakes up at 7:15 am to begin their day. On Shabbat, campers have the opportunity to sleep late. For early risers, there are optional Shabbat morning activities – prior to services – staffed by counselors and specialists.
Breakfast: Most campers walk to the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) where juice, cereal, milk, fruit and a hot breakfast item like pancakes, french toast or waffles await them. Kibbutznikim, the members of our oldest unit, prepare some of their own meals and eat in their own Chadar Ochel.
Activities: Campers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports and arts/cultural activities everyday. Activity instructors create lesson plans unique to each age group and skill level. We strive to offer activities appropriate to both the beginner and the experienced participant. Sports/outdoor activities are usually scheduled to take advantage of the cooler, morning temperatures with indoor activities later in the day.
Nikayon (Clean Up): Every day, it’s important that the cabin must be cleaned to keep our living conditions sanitary and “livable” as well as to teach the value of taking care of ones’ self and property. Responsibilities for this activity lies with the campers, under the supervision and with the help of the staff. Jobs are usually rotated among members of the bunk (counselors included). Our counselors also know how to make cleaning fun through competitions, dance parties, and helpful encouragement. Inspections are made daily by the unit head and weekly “inspection winners” are duly rewarded.
Menucha (Rest Hour): Our campers are so busy with all their activities that we have to schedule in time to rest! Every camper has at least one hour of rest during the day. During this time, campers frequently write letters or read books, although napping is often encouraged.
Shiur (The GFC Judaic Experience): The definition of the Hebrew word “shiur” is study. Almost every kind of experience the camper has at Greene Family Camp is “educational” on one level or another. Daily camp life teaches campers about friendship, self-respect, taking responsibility and so on. As a JEWISH camp, GFC strives to expose campers to specific areas of Jewish knowledge, beliefs and experiences, and to show campers (and staff) that Jewish learning is fun in a way that is exciting, and relevant to their lives.
During each camp day, time is scheduled for shiur. During this time, campers in our younger units (Bonim, Niviim, and Kohanim) focus on a summer-long theme, with programming and activities geared specifically for their age group. The education team along with visiting faculty members strive to integrate daily shiur into different activities throughout the day.
The older units, Melachim, Kibbutz and Avodah, participate in a “free university” program called “Limudim” – the Hebrew word for learning. Each camper chooses courses from offerings by visiting rabbis, educators, cantors, and camp staff and faculty.
We have a t’fillah experience (services) each day, as well as Friday night, Saturday morning, and Havdallah at the conclusion of Shabbat. We try to expose campers to a variety of prayer experiences, give campers the opportunity to write creative services, and help campers develop a positive attitude toward Jewish worship.
Swim: We test Bonim, Niviim, and Kohanim campers’ swimming ability during the first days of each session. We then try to advance each camper at least one Red-Cross level during our instructional swim periods. Our ability to do this depends on the campers’ skills and motivation. If your camper has participated in competitive swimming programs or takes lessons during the off-season, please let us know on the Parent Questionnaire. Instructional swim is mandatory for Bonim, Niviim and Kohanim campers.
In addition to instructional swim, free swim enables campers and staff in each unit to have a great time together in the pool. The campers may choose to socialize by the side of the pool as well as swim. The gym is also open for basketball.
Lunch & Dinner : Our lunch and dinners are served buffet-style in our Chadar Ochel. There is always a variety of delicious and healthy options to choose from, even for our pickiest eaters. We work with our camper care staff to make sure every child’s special eating needs are met.
Chufsha: Every evening after supper, campers have the opportunity to select from a menu of some of our most popular camp activities. This free period gives all of our campers the chance to do things that they have not necessarily signed up for and allows campers from different units to participate together in activities.
Evening Programs: Evening programs are always creative and exciting. Our staff works very hard to provide three unique types of evening programs throughout the session: Bunk, Unit, and All-Camp programs. Bunk evening programs are designed and coordinated by bunk counselors. These programs provide an opportunity for bunk unity and/or challenges with other bunks. Unit evening programs involve the entire unit participating in a special activity. These are some of the most unusual and memorable programs, designed by the unit’s staff. All-Camp evening programs are usually theme-oriented and are an opportunity for the entire camp to interact. Some of our most popular programs include: campouts, Iron Chef Competition, pool parties, dances, and Wild, Wild West Night, just to name a few.
Special Events: Special and all-day events are periodically scheduled each session. These programs provide opportunities for campers to do things that are different from activities in their regular schedule. Special days include Israel Day, Spectacular Day, Independence Day, and Maccabiah (our name for Color War).
Field Trips: Each unit, except for Bonim, will go on an out-of-camp excursion. No additional funds are required for any of these trips. Camp will provide meals, or meal vouchers, and admission fees. Niviim, Kohanim, and Melachim go on day trips. Kibbutz and Avodah have fun overnight camping trips.
Each Friday, Kibbutz participates in community service at various agencies in central Texas, like Habitat for Humanity and a Waco area food bank. These trips culminate with a visit to Wal-Mart, so a small amount of spending money is recommended for Kibbutz campers, although it is not required. All campers are strongly encouraged to deposit cash and valuables into the camp safe on opening day.
Cabins In and Lights Out – Units go to bed at times appropriate to their age. Time is based on all campers getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night. Staff members have rotating overnight duty, and a staff member is present inside each cabin from lights out until wake-up the next morning.