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Words for the Wise – Maccabiah: Jewish Confidence Through the Generations

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!

Captains and Judges

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:

C1 – They respect each other and the counselors even more this week. All the cabin protected the counselors at the staff tag game, too! We having the best time for their last days!!
C4 – We learned how biomechanics work during fitness chug and how to always be respectful. The happiest memory of the week for our kids was the Chalutzium overnight where they got to play in the dark capture the flag. Never doubt yourself.
C5 – We learned how to create strong bonds with our cabin-mates. When we all got chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches it made the best memories! We’re excited to create even more bonds with others!
C6 – This week our cabin learned how to collaborate when painting their cabin plaque and how to support and look out for each other. Our happiest memory was having a spa/massage night in our cabin when it was raining out. Our goal is for our campers to keep taking appropriate risks and challenging themselves through trying our new activities!
C7 – This week we learned how to put up tents for our overnight. We also made so many new friends during maccabiah! We had such a fun time at the overnight. Making s’mores and sleeping in tents! One goal for our cabin next week is to conquer our fear on the high ropes course!
C8 – We learned how to work as a team, while working on their cabin plaque. The funniest moment of the week was when we “raided” the chadar (dining hall) for chipwhiches. Our goal is to try new activities, like the new ropes course.
O1 – We learned a lot at soccer and about camp’s values at Shabbat prep. Our most happy memory was Pokémon Maccabiah. Our goal for next week is to get closer as a cabin before the end of camp.
O2 – This week we worked on our communication. Everyone enjoyed maccabiah even if they didn’t win! Our goal for next week is to grow stronger together!
O3 – Teamwork and communication have been our focus! The pool party for Orla was the highlight of this week. We aim to become the best we can be by the end of the session!
O5 – Teamwork (from the down & dirty evening program) Covering Adam in dirt and sand to get him as buried as possible – that was a blast. We hope to to come together as one big group instead of a few smaller groups.
O6 – We learned how to use our words to advocate for ourselves or for others. We hope to become even closer in the week to come. You can see we loved the lake!!!
O7 – We all went jet skiing this week and tried the high ropes course – two amazing highlights! Graphic design was a memory because they all had so much fun making baby shark stickers which is a joke they have in the cabin and they had fun doing that together. We aim to be better at cleaning, improve manners at meals and in general be more kind to each other 🙂
O8 – We learned how to climb the tower together and support one another. We loved spending time at the pool! We want to keep having fun!
O9 – We have learned to not hold grudges against one another! We enjoyed paint party evening program. We want to get along with each other more with fewer arguments- but we are improving and working on communication and teamwork!
O10 – We’ve been working on listening and patience. Our highlight was Ivy’s Giant Swing B-day Party We are looking forward to staying healthy having a blast in the last week of camp!
N1 – We are missing some friends in the health center – but they’ll be back for Shabbat! – Our cabin has learned the value of community. With a few kids going to the health center, it was beautiful to see the others come by their window to say hi throughout the day. The cabin got to sit on the stage for dinner! Continue the amazing vibes. Keep up the high energy!
N2 – We’ve learned that what is important when building and sustaining a community. the Maccabiah break was our favorite memory and we want to be able to all touch the blue ball at leap of faith!

Continued here!