Jun 18, 2018
Session 1, Day 10
Every cabin wakes up in a different way. Some counselors set alarms, others play music, and some campers wake up before the staff and take the morning into their own hands. But this morning, wake up was different. The camp was woken quickly and loudly by bangs on the doors, shouts, and even horses. The first words that everyone heard were “Wake up! Wake up! Today’s Maccabiah!”
Campers poured out of their cabins, brimming over with excitement. For some, the experience was new and startling, but their more experienced friends filled them in quickly: Maccabiah has started, a full day of an all-camp color war. Each cabin was split into four colors – Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green. Throughout the day, campers sit with their teams at meals and compete in various games to earn points for their team. It’s a day full of energy and spirit, with tons of exciting activities and never a boring moment.
The day had an early start as we gathered in the commons earlier than usual for four-way volleyball, and then filtered into the Chad for a hearty breakfast to prepare for the day. Though meals at camp are always loud, breakfast was especially so, as the dining hall rang with cheers and shouts of ruach (or “spirit”) from each team’s table. Afterwards, the teams spread out across camp to create posters, spirit sticks, cheers, and songs pertaining to the Maccabiah theme.
The theme of Maccabiah is part of what makes the day so special. Different every session, as well as year to year, the themes ensure that no two Maccabiahs are exactly alike. This Maccabiah theme is Space Invasion. Each team represents a different planet – Yellow is Saturn, Blue is Neptune, Red is Mars, and Green is Venus – and the judges dressed up as aliens. All day, the competitions and activities that the campers participate in center around outer space and the planets.
After each team presented their songs, skits, and banners to the camp (earning points for spirit and respect while doing so), campers began rotations to gain even more points. The kids spend the time before lunch engaged in scavenger hunts, trivia contests and BBS – or Baseball Basketball Soccer. This is one of the many experiences that don’t exist outside of camp, as BBS is a game that is unique to Ranch Camp. Like baseball, one team plays the outfield while another one is up to bat – except instead of batting, campers kick a ball as far as they can before running around the bases. The outfield team works to get the ball back to the middle of the court and then make a basket before the kicker has gotten all the way back to home plate to score.
Maccabiah is a very high-energy day, and teams put their voices to good use cheering on their teammates. To give kids a chance to rest, lunch was a silent meal, with teams competing to see who can make the least noise. Though it’s strange to see the Chad so quiet, many were glad for the break, which continued with an extended menucha in the afternoon. Campers were able to store up some energy for the afternoon’s event: the Maccapeel.
The Maccapeel is the most iconic of Maccabiah’s events. A camp-wide relay race, it was named for the bananas that campers would pass to one another as they went from one station to the next. Due to the bananas becoming squished and brown by the end of the race, campers now pass along a stick, the same spirit sticks that they decorated in the morning.
The race started at the front gate. One camper representative from each team sprinted up to the office, where they passed off their sticks to the next group of campers. As each camper finished their station – ranging from solving riddles to building a human pyramid – they passed their team’s stick to the next station and then ran to the sports field. Once the entire team was gathered there, they worked together to transfer water from one bucket to the next. The first team to empty their bucket won the race, with extra points to the team with the most water in the second bucket.
After such an active day, the entire camp was grateful for a more relaxed evening activity. Everyone gathered to watch the movie Space Jam, one last nod to the day’s theme. The night began and campers split off from their teams to return once again to their cabins, teams disbanded but still connected by the spirit that had tied them together during the day. Everyone slept soundly, exhausted but satisfied as well, each happy with what they had done for their team and uplifted by the support everyone had shown each other.