Jul 03, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara

It’s Maccabiah!!

Session 2, Day 9

In the minds of many campers, some of the most exciting times at camp are the evening programs. After dinner, the camp gathers together (sometimes in the commons, other times in the Mo or the Chad), one of the only times when the entire community participates in the same program. Many of the activities are active, like Bombardier, a combination of a trivia challenge and a tag game, and Ranch Camp-Opoly, a camp-wide scavenger hunt. Others are a little more laid back, like the Ranch Camp Wedding (a mock wedding with a cast of goofy characters) or the campfire.

Last night’s evening program was Kaleidoscope, a talent show that is open for every camper to participate in. Like every program at camp, Kaleidoscope is challenge by choice, so nobody was forced to participate. Those who did performed so because they were passionate about their talent and excited to share with others, and those who did not still had a blast watching their cabin mates and friends regale the crowd with skits, songs, gymnastics, yo-yo tricks, dances, and many other unique talents. With each new act, the diversity and depth of the community became evident. The staff may be here to help the campers learn and grow, but other kids do it just as well. Surrounded by peers from so many different backgrounds, kids become excited to learn about the world around them and try things they hadn’t been exposed to before.

The last act of the night was especially exciting. A skit composed only of staff, two people stood together on stage and began to sing. They were quickly upstaged by another pair, singing a different song. This happened two more times, until eight staff members were standing onstage, arguing about which musical is the best, before turning to the crowd and announcing the start of Maccabiah!

Maccabiah is a full-day, all camp color war. Though it happens every session, no two Maccabiahs are the same. This is because every session has a different theme. As displayed by the skit, this session’s theme is musicals, with the yellow team as Hamilton, green team as Wicked, red team as The Lion King, and blue team as Frozen.

The day began bright and early. In order to get in a volleyball game before breakfast, the captains of each Maccabiah team ran around to both villages at seven in the morning, shouting, banging on doors, and even riding horses to rouse the camp and give the day an energetic start. The four-way volleyball game raised everybody’s spirits and instilled excitement in all – the camp was buzzing with energy by the time everyone ascended the stairs for breakfast.

It was a hot day, with the temperature reaching over 90 and the sun beaming down. Heat can be draining, but it wasn’t today, as everyone was distracted by the activities (and, of course, spent time in the shade and made sure to stay hydrated). First, the four teams split up to create banners, songs, chants, and skits to present to the others. After, campers split up into units (Chalutzim, Metapsim, and Toshavim) to compete in trivia, gaga, and BBS (a combination of baseball, basketball, and soccer). As the temperature began to rise, the activities before lunch were a little more laid back, with each team decorating a cake for dessert later and dressing up a counselor as a character from their musical.

To give the kids a break from all of the high energy, lunch was a silent meal, with points deducted for talking, and Menucha was extended by half an hour. By the afternoon, it had cooled down slightly and everyone had energy stored up for the most quintessential of the Maccabiah programs: the Maccapeel.

Campers were eager to sign up for spots in the camp-wide relay race. From running up from the front gate to solving riddles, there was something for everyone, athletic or not. The race ended with everyone at Niven Field, each team working together to transfer as much water as they could from one bucket to another using only a sponge. Afterwards, everyone celebrated the completion of the last activity with a friendly color war. Everyone threw colorful chalk powder up into the air in joy, each person coated with varying hues as the color fell upon them.

After such a long day, everyone was looking forward to a relaxed evening program. Washed clean of color powder and face paint, bundled up in warm clothes, the camp gathered at the campfire to watch The Greatest Showman before bed.

Maccabiah may be a competition between the four color teams – but at the end of the day, it’s not about the competition at all. Maccabiah is about trying new things, stepping outside your comfort zone, making friends with people in different units and cabins, and being creative. But most importantly, Maccabiah is about the Ranch Camp community, and about fostering a community that encourages each other, respects each other, and lifts each other up.