My children made friends for life at Camp Wise; they developed a new found independence and a sense of pride that they went out of their comfort zone. It mattered that they were surrounded by genuine campers and counselors who cared about them, counselors that they could laugh with and new friends to play games with, people who they learned to trust.
This week’s Shabbat experience is facilitated by the village of Ohalim and in preparation for Shabbat, Ohalim talked about how we live this value of welcoming others at home and at camp. The campers discussed how perfect this week’s Shabbat is for Ohalim because their cabin’s tent flaps make their village open and welcoming to all, just like Abraham and Sarah’s tent once was.
In just a few short days I’ve had the opportunity to see just how exceptional our Camp Wise community truly is. Ohalim showed me how much fun they can have when an unexpected late night turned into a song session dance party. I joined in on Noar’s closing campfire ritual and got a chance to hang out with Solel campers on the deck. In Chalutzim, I watched as campers who had arrived just two days before welcomed our special Shabbat guests from the Columbus JCC. Together with their staff, the Chalutzim campers helped teach the campers from Columbus about the ruach (spirit) of Chalutzim and Camp Wise.
On Thursday evening we gathered to watch the session’s camp play “Seussical Jr.”. As the story is told (by the Cat in the Hat) it teaches us that a strong sense of compassion, community, and friendship are necessary to overcome obstacles and that placing a high value on those principles will allow for success. As I watched our campers take to the stage I realized that not only did the actors, the set designers, and the production crew learn to care for one another, so did everyone at camp this summer
For most campers, Maccabiah is one of their favorite programs that we do all summer – they’ll probably tell you because it’s always a fun surprise, a unique theme, and filled with silly games and sports competitions. But the reason that Maccabiah is one of my favorite events is because I truly see the spirit of Camp Wise come alive!
Our campers are part of several communities or families each summer. They start with their inner circle of bunkmates and camp staff, and the circle expands to their village, and to all of camp. Over the course of the summer, unique communities are formed through chugim (elective activities), special programs like Israel Night, and through programs like Solel and Chalutzim buddies where our youngest campers are paired with our oldest campers in a mentoring program.