For over 400 campers, Masmidim and Yeshivas Kayitz members that spent either 1 or both months of this Summer @ Gan Yisroel, NY, “Survival” with professionally trained Survival director Gershon Sandler was a fantastic experience.

The daily exciting activities in the woods of CGI, had the campers learning how to survive in the forest by building debris shelter and starting a fire with birch bark and stone. The campers also played games and went on nature hikes where they learned about Hashems creations.

In addition to all the above many of the older campers were involved in building the first ever Jewish Survival Community in the woods. As in most communities their first project was to build a Mikva in the nearby stream. Afterwards, the campers, under the direction of Gershon Sandler went on to build a “kitchen” which consisted of an open fire-pit where they cooked food, benches made from logs and a tarp covered table used for food preparation.

One of the Survival highlights of the summer was the “Baal Shem Tov Davening Experience” that was awarded to the best learning classes. The deserving classes, along with their learning teacher and Survival Director, would enter the forest after lineup in the morning, where they would make their way to the “Shul” constructed by Gershon. The Shul consisted of a tree that was cut down to serve as a Shtender and logs for the campers to sit on (see thumbnail photo above). The special part of this experience was not only the beautiful surroundings where the campers found themselves, but most importantly the slow pace of davening. The campers would daven with much Kavana and their learning teacher would explain many parts of the davening to them.

After davening the campers ate breakfast and were treated to special “eggs in a hole” cooked over the open fire by Gershon. During breakfast, the experience continued with the campers listening to stories of the Baal Shem Tov.

Some other highlights included a “Can-paign” that raised $100 for Hatzoloh, night hikes & bar-b-ques in the forest for the best bunks.

The campers of CGI would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to the Nathan Cummings Foundation & The Foundation for Jewish Camping for bringing Gershon Sandler to camp. If you are interested in having Gershon come down to your Chabad House or community, to create any type of outdoor nature experience you can contact him at 201-337-7050