CRS TIMES: CRS '17 Week 8

Blog Sachems: Remy (New Jersey) and Jana (Palestine) 


Hi everybody! This is Remy from New Jersey and Jana from Palestine, and we are the Blog Sachems for the last week of Camp. We deviate from the standard CRS TIMES format and describe what we did this week through reflections written by various Sachems, and discuss the overall CRS experience through interviews with campers. And of course, we will include pictures!

Instruction Reflections

Saturday: World Awareness Day / Vigil Prep Day

Sachems of the day: Manashree (Minnesota) and Ida (Poland)

Vigil sachems: Bella (California) and Rania (France)

We had some amazing instructions this day, like “Afghanistan and Tajikistan” taught by Saima (Afghanistan) and Mavzuna (Tajikistan).  During rest hour, we tie-dyed our CRS shirts, designed by Elise (Minnesota), and during Self-Structured Time (SST), we had a discussion on world affairs and politics, led by Ida. Also on this day, we had vigil. Vigil is a vital part of the CRS experience, which takes place from Sunday night to Monday morning.

During vigil, we spend the night alone in the woods and write a letter to ourselves. To prepare for vigil, we gathered firewood, water, sleeping mats, and any personal items we would want or need. Sleeping bags and bug spray were popular choices! We also chose our vigil spots and arranged our space for Sunday evening. By 8 PM on Sunday, we journeyed to our vigil spots and we started our fire. Throughout the night, we wrote a letter to ourselves. The counselors and second-year campers checked up on us throughout the night.


Sunday: Vigil Prep Day cont. / Vigil

Sachems of the day: Sigrid (Norway) and Julissa (NYC)

This day, we finalized our preparations for vigil.  We slept late the night before to make up for the loss of sleep. We gathered all the materials we would need that night, such as firewood, paper, pens, a flashlight and our air horns. After our evening instruction, we were off to our vigil spot for the night. 

We first began the night by starting a fire. This fire was very helpful to keep our campsite lit and free of mosquitoes. Starting a fire was somewhat difficult but with determination, we got it done. Then the long night began. We wrote letters to our future 21-year-old selves. This letter includes a reflection of our Camp experiences and most memorable memories. It also includes goals and aspirations we have for ourselves in the future. Some of us also included advice to our future selves. As the night grew on, pages upon pages of a letter were written. Vigil night came to an end as we watched the sunrise and went then to bed. 


Monday: Vigil / Vigil Rest Day / Bonding Day

Sachems of the Day: Rachel (NYC) and Alisha (Japan)

Vigil ended at 5:30 AM. Afterward, we all handed in our letters, ate breakfast, and went straight to bed.  We got up around 1:00 PM, so we were all well-rested for the day ahead of us. Our sachems organized a bonding and appreciation activity, where each person stood in two concentric circles and told the person standing across from them what we appreciated about them. Then, we rotated and told the next person what we appreciated about them, and so on. This activity put everybody in a great mood and made us all feel very special! 

For the evening program, the sachems of this week organized the first ever CRS Prom! There was great music from DJ Amit, shirley temple drinks and delicious snacks by Alex, a photo booth, and a lot of dancing! Special thanks to our bouncers Karim and Edu, and our MC Dan the Man!  It was lit!


Tuesday: Departure Clean-up

Sachems of the day: Andrya (Utah) and Thea (Denmark)

Departure Sachem: Adelina (Rhinebeck, NY)

As the season is coming to a close, it is time for us to start cleaning up the campus.  We started with cleaning Cabin Hill and the vigil spots.  Everyone worked really efficiently, so we finished early.  As a reward, we got ice cream sandwiches at lunch.  And then, they opened the pool and lake during SST! (PIC) Our evening program, organized by Janessa, was about life after Camp Rising Sun. We discussed how to become leaders in our community, how to stay involved in LAJF for many years after camp, and the importance of our alumni associations. 


Wednesday: Ghost Stone Council Day

Sachems of the day: Ruby (Massachusetts) and Wilja (Sweden)

Every week, our CRS community takes time to reflect on the past week and the weeks ahead. This is composed of three different parts: 1) Silent hour – This is a time dedicated for self-reflection in a quiet space. 2) Wisdom circles – These meet before Silent hour, and we reflect in small groups. 3) Council – This is a space where we reflect as a community. Council usually consists of counselors and second-year campers giving advice, talking about the lessons they learned at Camp, or reflect on anything that happened during the past week.  Between these different parts, anyone can showcase their art work— this can be a poem, a dance, or a piece of music. Ghost stone council is different than other councils because everyone has the opportunity to participate; each person has one minute to say something special, reflect on their camp experience, share a song/poem, or tell their community something before they leave for home.  We really love ghost stone council because it incorporates the opinions and thoughts of everybody in the community, not just those chosen to share.  It is a true reflection of the entire community, and it strengthens our bond before we leave at the end of camp.

After council and our midnight snack, we went to bed.  Since all of our beds and suitcases were taken off Tent Hill during departure clean-up, we had a sleep-anywhere night! There were people sleeping on the tennis court, at the gazebo, and in the gym watching a movie. It was a beautiful night to look at all the stars!


Thursday: Departure Clean-up / Last Full Day at CRS

Sachems of the day: Marian (Argentina) and Elise (Minnesota)

It is sad to think that camp is almost finished! It hit us during departure clean-up when we were taking down the tents (now they are just platforms).  We were able to finish early so there was a lot of SST. The Sachems opened the pool and sauna, and there was a lot of clothes being traded in the gym!  After our last dinner as a community, we had the last variety show! We had a lot of fantastic performances and enjoyed our last night together.


Friday: Last Day of CRS

Sachems of the day: Astha (India) and Bonolo (South Africa)

Nobody thought the last day of camp would arrive so soon, but here we are. We would like to say thank you to everyone and anyone who helped Camp Rising Sun run this season! It’s been an unforgettable experience—one that we would not trade for anything in the world. The amount of culture we have experienced and the leadership skills we have developed is priceless and will truly change our life. How how!


Projects of the Week

  • Lean-to
  • Mirrors in Drama Cabin
  • Stargazing tower ladder
  • Time Capsule
  • See-saw
  • Yearbook
  • Songbook

Poetry Corner:

Freda (UK)


These days I feel like I’m constantly pining.

Always longing for something or someone that I once had or will leave.

And I still do that at camp - it’s a given of course.  Pining for home, my bed, my dog, my beautiful, beautiful family.  But I live in the moment far more here.  I am happy here. People love me and respect me here.  I am my unhindered glorious self here.  I don’t need to put any energy into ignoring looks or whispers, or staying strong when people are shit.  I can just do me and I feel loved for it.

Now, I am standing sheltered from the rain.  But the shelter is small and I feel the drops on my bare legs and arms.  The sound is loud, aggressive.  Camp is the shelter.  In the same way I feel the rain touching my shin and slapping the ground. I am aware that I will soon be immersed in the real world.

And soon, I will be pining more than I know my heart can take.


Elisabeth (Denmark)


What, why?

Where are you?

What do you do here?

When do I know you are coming?

How do I recognize you in the heavy dark shadows of the world?

I know you, I have seen glances of you, but you left us, without you we terrorize each other, even the children

To what end, where is the peace, how do we call upon you?

When do we know that you are here?

What do we do know?

Where are we?

When, how?


Camper Interviews:

What is your favorite thing at CRS?

Sunyoung (South Korea): I loved every moment at the Camp, especially the things where we could be friends with nature. The hiking/wilderness trip was so awesome and a great opportunity for me.

 Yanbing (China): CRS, to me, is a “safe place” separated from the outside world, which gives me enough space and time to reflect on myself.  Never before have I slowed down and started reflecting, but, thanks to CRS, I now could. It is really amazing to reflect without interruptions or distractions.

 Fidan (Azerbaijan): My favorite thing about CRS is that there are a lot of opportunities to try new things, be sachem, participate in team-building activities, attend different instructions and projects, and learn new things every day.

Talk about one of the friendships you made here.

Sunyoung: I feel like we are all great friends with one another. Whenever I announced things or needed help, everyone was welcoming and cheered me on. Thank you guys!

Yanbing: Ida was my tent-mate in Grand Central (my 1st tent). During the first couple of days, I thought she was very cool and chill, because she always wore black clothes, played her drums and didn’t talk much. But gradually, I found out that she’s an awesome person. I called her ‘bug killer’ because she helped me deal with all kinds of bug problems. She is always helpful. Also, through tent talks, I found that she was talkative when we really started chatting. She is very aware of global issues and is always willing to talk whenever you want. Also, she is an amazing drum player! I'm so lucky to have met her.

What is one moment at CRS that you will remember forever?

Sunyoung: I want to forever remember the day when I was the sachem. It was a hectic day, but I felt so proud of myself and of the whole community. Also my birthday; it was the best and happiest birthday ever!

Yanbing: There are a lot of moments: The bonfire and the s’mores on the wilderness trip, every second of my sachem day, the prom and the fireworks show, the solar eclipse, etc. Every moment here is memorable.

Fidan: There are many memories I will remember forever, but my favorite memory was during the wilderness trip when it was raining and everyone was singing songs together.

How have you seen yourself change over the 4 weeks?

Sunyoung: I changed a lot. I can do my daily duties by myself like laundry, cleaning, etc. and I learned how to appreciate others because, here, there are so many different girls who have become one, together.

Yanbing: I started to know clearly what I really want, what I should do and what I shouldn't do. Through a lot of conversations and discussions where we opened up, we learned that we just need to follow our herts and be ourselves, regardless what others may say. Also, at first I was the girl who would scream whenever I saw a bug, but now I am the girl who can deal with huge spiders!

Fidan: CRS changed my perspective on the world and on others. I feel more responsible to myself and my community.

How do you think CRS made you a better leader?

Sunyoung: Camp has changed my views on leadership, thanks to Rising Sun program, sachems, the project director, etc. 

Yanbing: CRS is such a diverse community, where everyone has different voices. It is not easy to make everyone happy. Before my sachem day, there was a dramatic evening program and everything became harder. Although it was a difficult issue, we dealt with it by making some changes on my sachem day, and I was glad to hear many campers appreciated that day. It is CRS that let me learn how to make quick changes when there’s a different situation.

Fidan: Being sachem was best opportunity to utilize my leadership skills. Taking responsibility and organizing a full day’s schedule were big steps in developing my skill.

Why are you happy that you came to CRS?

Sunyoung: I’m happy to be here because I’ve made many friends around the world, which is really cool. Not many people can get this wonderful opportunity, so I’m glad to be part of the Rising Sun community.

 Yanbing: It was week 4 when I relaxed and relieved all kinds of pressure from the outside world. I am always having fun, trying new things and self-reflecting here. It is a wonderful experience to step out of my comfort zone, try a lot of new stuff, and make new friends.

Fidan: I’m happy that I came to CRS. I tried new things, faced some challenges, and overcame my fears. I also made so many friends from all around the world.

How are you going to take actions in your community, and use leadership skill you learned?

Sunyoung: As I did in my sachem day, I will make community work more flexible. If there’s a problem in community, I will go face the problem and try my best to help resolve the issue. Also, I appreciate everyone in the community and I give how how to everyone.  

Yanbing: I want to help more people slow down and engage in self-reflection, which can make us see ourselves more clearly.  Also, as one of the founders of a program that helps children with Cerebral Palsy said, I hope we can let more people join us, make people aware to eliminate the misunderstanding of them, and embrace them equally and friendly.