It's lucky for us that we have friends who are more organized than we are!
We thought (ha!) that we would get to the Sachneh campsite early, to pick out a good spot and save space for our friends. Well, they were there well before we were and luckily they saved a shady spot for us!
There were two clusters of religious families we knew, one on top of the main hill and one off to the side of the main path. We had friends in both encampments. We camped with the group off the main road, since we had coordinated with them first. It was a great little enclave! We had our tents in a semi-circle, surrounding several machatzalot (large woven mats). The main coordinator of our group even had a huge awning set up! Most people brought chairs and there was always someone hanging out at the campsite.
This year, our family knew more about what to expect and we all felt more "at home."
Thanks to my friend from kibbutz, we only schlepped up our clothes and camping equipment. She organized everything else: food, chairs and stools, mattresses, etc. I do not know how we would have managed without her!
Everyone really helped set up camp, and we were done fairly quickly. We did have a few minutes of "why can't my tent be there?" But when I saw that we were getting "stuck," I just ended those conversations and made a unilateral decision about who would be where. Once we were set up, everyone was happy.
Our family, and I am including my kibbutz friend in "our family," formed a semicircle within the larger semicircle. We had 3 tents: one for my friend and I, one for the girls, and one for my son. We spread out one machatzelet in between our tents and another one in the open, communal space. Sometimes we ate on our own, and sometimes we joined together with the others. I think we found a good balance between being focused on our family and being social.
When we got there, I knew the family who coordinated the group, one of the other families, and the kids from a third family (I had never met their dad before). There were two other families in our little enclave, with whom we also really connected. It turns out that one of dads, who came on his own (with his daughter), is triLcat's (LeahGG) husband! What a small world!
To my surprise, some single friends of ours, from Jerusalem, were also there and set up camp just a few meters away from our group. My kids did not know the other kids who were there, but they did know our friends from Jerusalem, so their presence added to the fun, communal feeling.
I had wanted to go swimming with the kids on that first day, but then my sister called. It turns out she was on her way up north to hike in "Nachal HaKibbutzim" (around the corner from Sachneh, where we were camping!). I knew that my eldest wanted to do that hike (last year, she was most disappointed about not having gone hiking) and I was not sure that I was up for any hiking. This seemed like the perfect solution!
I asked my sister if my eldest daughter could join her and my sister was thrilled to have my daughter along. Both my son and youngest daughter wanted to join as well, but there was not room for both of them. My son was very generous and deferred to his sister. He was disappointed about missing the tiyul (hike) with his aunt, but he understood that he would have fun juggling and his younger sister did not really participate in the juggling.
While waiting for my sister to arrive, we went to the Ulam Sport to check out the juggling workshops schedule.
This year, we all knew more about what to expect and we all felt more "at home."
Later that afternoon, my girls went hiking with my sister and I hung out with my son in the Ulam Sport. Moshe hung out most of the day at the campsite, in the shade, reading a book.
In the end, my sister and the girls ended up going to one of the ma'ayanot (natural springs) by Ein HaNatziv. They all came back, excited and pleased with how the day worked out.
That night, we all bar-b-qued. It was fun and yummy!
When the coals burned down, and the marshmallows finished, Moshe and my sister went back to the kibbutz and the rest of us bunked down for the night.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,