JTA — Summer camp was not among the highlights of my youth. It was mainly an awkward rite of passage that I just had to get through, much like high school but with more bugs. Jewish singles weekend often are no better. Despite the misgivings, I packed my bags for a weekend of adventure and possible romance, and hopefully not too much schmaltz.
Young men and women competing in a relay race at the singles weekends at Club Getaway in Kent, Conn. Josh Lipowsky Internet dating has exploded in popularity since JDate premiered more than 15 years ago, the first in what is now a crowded field of Jewish dating websites.
Since , the site has partnered with Club Getaway, which has been running J-Weekends for about two decades. The weekend began Aug. Staff onboard got the fun started early, generously doling out wine and snacks. Given that no singles weekend is complete without the uncomfortable get-acquainted sessions known as icebreakers, one staffer had the singles switch seats based on common interests.
And so it was that Ahna Blutreich and I spent the ride discussing our culinary hobbies. Ahna had been to J-Weekend twice before but was turned off by the number of older, divorced folks. A tough work schedule convinced her to give it another shot. So are typical camp activities such as archery, kayaking and water skiing, mixed with some spicier grown-up activities like wine tastings, Thai massage and pole dancing — the latter activity restricted to the ladies.
If the guy is doing that activity, we at least have something in common. Color war is a staple of most summer camps, and Club Getaway is no exception, except here it was condensed down to under an hour.
We tossed water balloons, spun around baseball bats and literally jumped through hula hoops. Nudity equals bonus points, a staffer told us.
What I enjoyed most, however, was Swashbuckling Fencing is full of rules and ceremony, but swashbuckling is down-and-dirty fighting, explained our instructor Alberto, who trains celebrities to use the blade for fight scenes. Having dressed as Zorro two years in a row for Halloween, I lunged get it? With five moves, Alberto taught us the basics of attacking and defending in a Hollywood sword fight. With just three people in the class, we were truly a modern-day Three Musketeers ready to rouse some rabble with rapscallion pirates at the local watering hole.
Swashbuckling paid off Saturday night at the pirate-themed dinner and dance, complete with costumed aerialists hanging from the ceiling and a number of JDaters in pirate garb practicing their bad pirate slang.
Hooking up takes on a whole different meaning for one-handed pirates. Pirates aside, it was really the Jewish content — or lack thereof — that separated J-Weekend from other Jewish singles weekends. There was no acknowledgment of Shabbat, and while staffers kept reiterating that the meat used over the weekend was kosher, the presence of turkey sausage next to the cheese blintzes at breakfast made me skeptical.
Glatt kosher meals aka airline food were available upon request, but vegetarian options also abounded. Club Getaway offered campers a variety of activities, such as trapeze lessons, to choose from over the weekend. At the behest of a staffer, J-Weekend added a Havdalah service this year. The best tip I picked up over the years was to focus on just having fun, not meeting your match, and interacting with people in the daylight rather than window shopping online by the light of my computer screen provided that opportunity.
One of my swashbuckling compatriots, Robert Kiselman of New York, agreed.