Last week we returned from the Skimama camp in Austria, and the excitement has not yet worn off. I know this feeling well after many years during which I have managed Kimama camps and projects, and I think that’s why so many good friends and staff members come back year after year. And why is this Skimama different from all others? Normally I join the ski camp as a staff member, but this time I went as camp manager.
Kimama ski camps have been held for ten years already, twice a year, during the Hanukkah and Passover vacations, in Austria and Italy. This time we moved the camp to a new location, and I was assigned the task of opening the new location and setting the standards. I like tasks like these, since they allow me to create new programs and establish new traditions that I know will last for years after me. This was the case when we opened the camp in Kfar Galim four years ago, where I was appointed to run the camp.
We departed – a group of fifty persons in total, campers and staff. The camp was in a picturesque town in Austria, in an area surrounded by many ski towns, but during a period considered “the end of the ski season”. And from the first moment we feared that there might not be enough snow on the mountain. I will tell you about this later on.
The campers who come with us to ski come from all over the country and from all ages from 7-17. The instructors who come with us are usually veteran and experienced Kimama instructors, the best of the summer staff, for whom in the winter, this is a great vacation from their studies (they are all students).
In preparation for the camp, we hold several meetings with the staff, put together the program and go over the Kimama procedures and traditions. As you surely know, this might be a ski camp, but it is much more a Kimama camp than a ski camp, so every hour is scheduled, well planned and well managed.
We left Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday morning and by the afternoon we were already in the camp in Austria after having signed for ski equipment. We were dispersed into our rooms and met in the dining room for hot soup and group bonding. One of the things I like most about Kimama is that the camp starts already at the airport, and not when you get to the camp. This allows for a whole day of bonding activities and ice-breaking and you can already feel while on the plane that the camp has started and you have made new friends.
We spent the first day of skiing at the ski area close to the camp. It was excellent and the campers enjoyed themselves immensely. But as I expected, since it was the end of the season, at the bottom of the mountain there was little snow, and this was not the experience we wanted to give the campers. At the end of the first day’s activities, we held a meeting and decided that it would be better to drive a bit farther away from the camp, and ski on a larger, higher mountain where there is lots of snow and lots of tracks for all levels. So this is what we did for the rest of the week until the end. In terms of the snow, the level of skiing and the skiing experience, it was excellent and everyone appreciated the change we made.
During the week, we undertook many more social activities, and even went on a day trip to Salzburg, which came after a guided viewing for all of us of the movie The Sound of Music. We had some time for shopping and a lot of time in the spa with heated pools, water slides and more. We held a Kimama Kabbalat Shabbat, and also a Banquet – the traditional closing party where we got together, sang, danced, had a wonderful experience and had a great time.
For me, this was a very special experience, one that reminds me again why I chose to engage in training and education, why I chose to be part of this wonderful thing called Kimama.
I would like to thank the team of top counselors who went out with me, as well as the amazing guys from the hotel and the team of local ski instructors.
We’ll meet again at the next Skimama.
Director of the Michmoret Camp