It’s halftime of the Campful Jewish Summer Camp Tour.

Here’s what’s happened so far:

Hava Nashira at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, Oconomowoc, WI.

What’s that? A one week Jewish songleading intensive.  Tremendous singing and prayer.  Barely enough time to go to the bathroom. Seriously.

Home for a day.  Family love. Laundry. Repack. Restring.

Goldman Union Camp Institute, Zionsville, IN

What’s that?...My home away from home.  Where I met my lifelong friends, Steve and Aaron.  Where I learned to play guitar.  Where I had my Bar Mitzvah.  Where Elysha and I met.  Where our daughter, Ava, now attends.

What did I do?

  • Songleader training with my first songleading teacher, David Snyder. 
  • Led a hootenanny with Rabbi Ron Klotz, Rabbi Jim Bennett and all of GUCI staff.
  • Lights Out programs each night for cabins of sleepy campers.
  • Studied prayer and the concept of sacrifice with Avodah.
  • Unit programs of singing, teaching, and silliness.
  • Assisted songleaders with various skills and repertoire.
  • Led morning song session (Theme from Hawaii Five-O) with Rabbi Sandford Kopnick (my former camp counselor).
  • Taught guitar to an eight-year-old boy named, Gabe.
  • Played basketball (worked on my 3-pointer) still not so fresh.
  • Rehearsed a horn section (worthy of the French Quarter in New Orleans) with five campers.
  • Danced in a conga line with campers during Shabbat Song Session.
  • Heard camp sing as beautifully and as joyfully as ever on Shabbat.
  • Played a really fun concert with my band.

Camp Newman, Santa Rosa, CA

What’s that?...A Jewish summer camp in Wine Country. Seriously.

What did I do?

  • Was told upon entering camp that there was a missing dog on camp.
  • The dog was in my room when I got  there. Long story.
  • Ate at Gott’s Roadside (Formerly Taylor’s Refresher) in St. Helena. So good.
  • Led singing at the “night before the campers come this is a big deal” meeting.
  • Learned how to play the washboard (kind of).
  • Played basketball.  Focused on rebounding and setting picks. (Very effective).
  • Worked with songleaders. 
  • Was questioned about how “I am a Zen master.” Seriously.  Who told them that???
  • Led a sunrise prayer expedition at 4:30 in the morning.
  • Met a kid named Eli who was awesome. Always a smile on this kid’s face.  
  • Prayed a lot. Sometimes it worked.
  • Ate a lot of tuna salad.
  • Ate a lot of tots. They love tots there.  
  • Bought a new un-named guitar. Weird one, but a good one.  Love it.  Such a deal. Was told to find a guy named FATDOG in Berkley who might be able to give me more information about this mysterious instrument.
  • Celebrated Toby Pechner’s 22nd birthday.
  • Went out to breakfast, Wal-Mart and lunch with all of the Newman Songleaders. 
  • Learned about Wolf-T-Wednesday.  Bought a Wolf T at Walmart.
  • Jammed with Camp Swig legend, Gordon Lustig.
  • Taught some very green and very good young song leaders.
  • Was reminded to trust process.
  • Heard an awesome new song by Jackson Mercer.
  • Learned some sign language- most of it- appropriate.
  • Ate a bag of Firey-Hot Cheetos with Lime.
  • Drank some delicious wine.
  • Drank a lot of coffee.
  • Sang a bunch of God songs for Avodah’s God and Spirituality Program (God Said No by Dan Bern, Always There by Mason Cooper and me, B’tzelem Elohim by Michael Moskowitz and me, God Is God by Steve Earle)
  • Finally got rid of a nasty sinus infection. Thank you Z-Pak.
  • Got two awesome Father’s Day cards from my family.
  • Sang for lots of cabins at cabin time (cabin time is Newman’s bed time ritual)
  • It was “really hot” during the day.  Very cool, almost cold at night.
  • Played a concert with and for Camp Newman.  Best ever, I think. Truly felt like a “wow” moment.

Jacobs Camp, Utica, MS

What’s that?...A Jewish summer camp in the deep south.

What did I do?

  • Flew a red-eye from SFO to Atlanta.  2 hour layover.  Flew from Atlanta to Jackson, MS. Slept one hour.
  • Had breakfast with Adam Tanenbaum.  They DO have bagels in Jackson.
  • Took a hard nap.
  • Had 2 dream visions:  #1 I now know my spirit animal. It is a Quadricorn. #2 The next time I play Flowers Are Red by Harry Chapin I would like for 3 campers to be painting the story in real time on a giant easel in front of camp as they hear it.
  • Ate the best cornbread I have ever had.
  • Ate the best wings I have ever had at camp.
  • Had a rough sound check. Almost chaos.
  • Stayed calm and positive through it all. I think.
  • Gave the best concert I have ever given at Jacobs.
  • Jacobs camp has never sounded better.
  • Had a very meaningful conversation with head song leader, Nick May.
  • Got a sweet gift bag with snacks. I like snacks.
  • Took 3 showers in under 24 hours. It’s hot in MS.

Now: home sweet home

I’m home for a couple of days of recharging and reconnection with Elysha and Ava.

  • So grateful to be home.

  • Time to fold the laundry and wash some dishes.

Getting Technical

Hi everyone,

Several folks have asked for the recording flow of Beautiful and Broken.  
Here it is:

  • Apple iMac
  • ProTools 11 Audio Recording Software
  • Bit Depth: 24
  • Sample Rate: 88.2

For a definition of these terms click here:  http://tweakheadz.com/16-bit-vs-24-bit-audio/

  • Miktek C5 Small Diaphragm Cardioid Pencil Condenser Microphones-Matched Pair (used to record instruments).
  • A-Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier (used to record instruments)
  • Avantone CV-12 Multi-Pattern Large Capsule Tube Condenser Microphone (used to record vocals and violin)
  • Universal Audio 6176 Vintage Tube Channel Strip (used to record vocals and violin)
  • Universal Audio Apollo Duo Audio Interface

Dan is going camping!

Dan is leaving for GUCI this morning.   His guitar is tuned.  His jump shot is...not.  This is his 16th summer of camping.  He's excited and ready. How about you!?  We would like to wish everyone a safe, fun, and rewarding experience at camp this summer.  When you see him, say Hi. Snap a Danny.   #DannyCamp16

#CDS: Kutz Camp Episode

Camp Danny 2.jpg

Kutz Camp Episode

Dan interviews Kutz Camp Songleaders- Jacob Spike Kraus and Ryan Leszner. The guys discuss the work, what they've learned and how they've been transformed by camp. Special guests include Trevor Mann with the world's highest falsetto and Danny Wender who gives Dan "the talk" about letting go and embracing the awkward. 

Episode 2: The Father's Day Episode from GUCI

Camp Danny 2.jpg

Episode 2. The Father's Day Edition recorded at Goldman Union Camp Institute. Dan visits with GUCI director, Rabbi Mark Covitz and first session faculty dean Rabbi Michael Moskowitz.  Dan and the guys discuss the meaning of fatherhood, making memories at camp and favorite camp jams.

The Camp Danny Show Episode 18


The Camp Danny Show Episode 18

The Zach Singer Interview/Interrogation

Description: Dan welcomes friend and fellow Jewish musician, Zach Singer from Los Angeles, CA.  Zach does his best "Inside The Actors Studio" impersonation of James Lipton and gets Dan out of sorts... but in a good way.  

The Camp Danny Show Episode 1

The Camp Danny show is about Jewish camp, songleading, and Jewish Music.  It's a fun show with serious conversations about the powerful experiences we have at camp. 



The Bill and Bonnie Nichols interview.

Dan shares his vision for what the podcast will become. Dan tells a story about a song that changed his life. Finally, Dan welcomes his parents to the show to tell their story of how they became a Jewish family. 

Just Sing

Just Sing

In the summer of 2005 in Oconomowoc, WI, Craig Taubman taught our songleading class this 
chant.  It sounded mysterious. The chant came paired with some interesting hand motions. Craig suggested it would be a good activity for group building. He taught me to sing:

Kao tay
Lay-na, lay-na mao tay
Ha-ya-no, ha-ya-no, ha-ya-no

Later, Craig told me he learned Kao Tay in Algonquin Park, Canada. He told me it’s a Native 
American chant and he had no idea what it meant. He just liked to sing it.

And so it was for me...

I used the hand motions and the song as a device to non-verbally direct a group’s attention. I got some weird looks. I got some sarcastic comments. Nevertheless, I stuck with it. And despite the hesitation from campers and staff it worked. It was strange how well it worked. In fact, I noticed that this chant was creating a focus for the group that I had rarely felt in other moments of my songleading life.

Near the end of that summer I visited The Young Judaea Sprout Lake Camp in Verbank, NY just outside of Poughkeepsie. As I remember it, a group of fifty, 10-year-olds came running from 
what I can only guess was the pool (they were dripping wet). They were screaming and laughing. The vibe was good, but I was still worried. On this inside, I thought, “Oh no, this is gonna suck for me.” There will be no way to teach them anything!” Then I heard another voice in my head say, “Try the Kao Tay thing. What do you have to lose?!” This time I tried the chant with just the hand motions. No singing at all. I repeated. I made direct eye contact with one kid at a time. I gently added the words and the tune. And one by one these kiddos starting doing the hand motions too. The group focused, leaned in and sang out. We were ready. 

We enjoyed a terrific session of singing and learning. And as it became time to end we couldn’t leave. A late afternoon summer thunderstorm was rolling in on top of us. We weren’t going anywhere. So we just kept singing. I was pulling out every “back pocket” song I could out of every pocket I could find. At one moment, I stalled. I stared. I went completely blank. I could not think of a song to sing. Out of the awkwardness of my hesitation came the voice of one of the campers who said, “Do Kao Tay again!” Now, with the wind and the rain and the lightning and the thunder we were singing Kao Tay. It was fantastic. It felt like some sort of primal celebration of nature. And we all had no idea what it meant. No idea. But we sang.

After about 15 minutes the thunderstorm subsided and it was safe to go. As the kids were leaving the pavilion an Israeli counselor named Donna walked up to me and said, “You know, you sang that song for so long, I couldn't help but hear Hebrew.” She handed me a little pink post-it note which read,

Kach oti
L'an, l'an ma-hu-ti
Cha-yei-nu, cha-yei-nu, cha-yei-nu.

I remember saying, “Donna, that’s cool. It sounds a whole lot like Kao Tay, but my Hebrew is 
really bad and I don’t know what that means either!” She translated the Hebrew for me as:
Take me
To where, to where, to myself, my essence
Our lives, our lives, our lives.

I said, I think I understand English, but I don’t get it. What does that mean?! I noticed one of the 
kids was listening in our conversation. I turned to her and I asked her. “What can that possibly 
mean?” She said, “Let me think about that and I'll get back to you.”

The next day she walked up to me with a 4 or 5 of her friends. They said, Tracy, Tracy, tell Dan 
what you think the song means.

Tracy sang:

Help me find
Who I am deep inside
Help me see, help me see, help me see.

We all erupted in applause. That night at my concert Donna and Tracy taught the entire camp 
their versions. My ears rang with the deafening volume of Young Judaea Sprout Lake Camp 
singing the Kao Tay/Kach Oti/Help Me Find chant. It was an incredible moment for everyone. 

Late that night I was pulled aside by the director of the camp, Helene Drobenare. She said, “I 
don’t why you chose to bring Tracy up onstage with you to sing. I don’t know if you know how 
important this night was for Tracy. The fact that Tracy got up there in front of the entire camp 
and sang with you WHAT she sang with you... it’s hard to believe. You see, Tracy is my cousin. 
And this year she suffered an unthinkable loss. This year Tracy’s father died. She has spoken to 
no one of her feelings about losing her dad. You did something very important for Tracy and we all want to thank you.

I was humbled and speechless. I had no idea about Tracy’s story. I was just trying to get a group under control. I was just trying to understand something that didn’t make sense. I was just  asking, “What do you think?” I was just singing. Just singing.

A year went by and I was back in Oconomowoc, WI where I first learned this song from Craig 
Taubman. I told this story late one night to everyone assembled at the songleading conference. 
As I was packing up my guitar and woman walked up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and 
handed me a little piece of paper. She told me she was a folk dancer in Florida and that this 
song, Kao Tay, was indeed, a Native American song. She told me the paper contained the direct translation from the Native American into English. The paper read:

Let me be one
With the infinite sun
Forever, forever, forever.

When I learned this song I had a plan. I had a goal. Then I started singing it. I thought I knew 
what the song was meant to do. I realize that I had no idea. Now, when I sing Kao Tay, I try to 
sing all the adaptations that rolled out that magical and holy summer of 2005. I just sing them 
and listen to what happens. It’s uplifting for me to be in the presence of something that takes on a life of it’s own. It gives me hope. Hope that we don’t have to know it it all. It reminds me that 
when we sing it gives us time to feel. It blesses us with time to reflect on our mysterious world, 
our fortunate lives and the remarkable people that we love.

Forever and forever and forever. Just sing