And the winner is…..Tie Dye!! That’s right, Tie Dye team won Trip II “Pokemon” Maccabiah in summer 2023! The Maccabiah (or color wars) competition is always one of campers’ favorite days at Camp Wise. Even for those of us in camp leadership it’s is awe inspiring to witness the whole camp participating together in one complex, highly orchestrated day of activities: sports, arts, music and skit competitions; a massive camp wide relay race – and of course, cheering for healthy competition!
Sometimes I ask, “what’s the point of Maccabiah?” – why do we expend all of this energy on one day?!? It turns out that the creation of Maccabiah highlights a core story of confidence and self-advocacy for the Jewish People. The first Maccabiah was held in 1912 and led by Yosef Yekutieli in British Mandate Palestine (now Israel). At the time, Jews in Europe weren’t permitted to play in official athletic competitions or join sports clubs. In response, Yekutieli founded a movement that led to the creation of the Maccabiahh Games, which still takes place today!
Jewish summer camps like Camp Wise, in an effort to educate about Zionism and develop athletic confidence in young Jewish kids (and to have a day of pure fun) instituted Maccabiahh competitions of all sorts. Nearly every Jewish summer camp in existence today has some version of a day of sports Olympics.
For some of our campers Maccabiahh stands for a day of sports they love to play, where they can be competitive in a healthy way. For others, it’s a day of spirit where they get to design and lead cheers and songs for their peers. And for a few, Maccabiah is a good distraction from a bit of homesickness or nervousness. During Maccabiah we see campers grow as leaders, cheer one another on while building confidence in each other, and even try their hand at new sports and relays that they’ve been hesitant to do before. It is a day where our campers come out of their shells and embrace the fun, excitement, and high-energy nature of camp.
As a whole camp kehillah (community) the 280 campers at Camp Wise leave behind Maccabiah feeling tired, but fulfilled. Walking around camp and through the dining hall, you can tell the difference – camp feels like a more cohesive and connected family at the end of this week. It’s awesome that an original event, one that was a response to discrimination and persecution, still created positive feeling and life-changing impact today. L’dor vador – from one generation to the next we’re connected!
Let’s check out those cabin photos and what’s happening around Camp Wise: