By Shani Haquin, Photographer/Marketing Assistant, and Alaina Yoakum, Director of Marketing & Communications
Look! Up in the Beit Am. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Bonim! Between meeting the Jewish Tzedek League, to learning Israeli dances, to pool time, our youngest cape-crusaders flew through the day tackling fun challenges and through them, discovering the essence of their own super powers.
We love to talk about how camp brings out the best in campers – and how the immersive camp experience itself can be a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery. Nowhere was this more evident than with our Bonim campers these past two weeks. From sunrise to sunset, led by their very creative and enthusiastic counselors, these young campers participated a series of superhero-themed programs geared toward helping them realize their own super potential.
From the hanafat hadagel ceremony – when all Junior Camp gathers to raise both the Israeli and American flags – to their first activity, dancing and playing Frisbee, the kids jump started their day learning more about themselves and their campmates by trying new things.
The girl cabins went to the Beit Am to learn Israeli dancing, while the boy cabins had a blast playing Frisbee (“the best thing at camp,” according to Elysha). The girls enjoyed learning the steps to some of the popular Israeli dances from Shabbat: the Hora, Golden Boy, the “Surprise Song” and some other fun traditional Israelis songs. Shira from cabin 313 said “I really like dancing to Golden Boy! This is my favorite dance!” Hanna from cabin 314 agreed, saying that Israeli dancing was her favorite activity of the day.
Later, both boys and girls came together to meet up with some cool super heroes: Mitzvah Man, Simcha Man, Bet (from alphabet) and Breicha Man! Ziv from cabin 314, said: ”I was so excited to meet the Tzedek League!” Tzedek, which means Justice, is our Jewish version of DC’s Justice League.
Every camper then divided into groups to learn how they could harness and recognize their own special super power! ”The super power shows our true abilities,” said Mai from cabin 313. “That means that we all have abilities that God made and we are all b’tzelem Elohim.”
The program was a hit:
“I really like Bet Man! He was so cool,” said AJ from cabin 313.
“I am learning that we have to earn to be Jewish,” said Felix. “With good things, like mitzvoth.”
“I like to see the power that we didn’t realized that we have,” said Lyla.
Ilay said: “I like Simcha Man, and love to see what the others’ super powers are.”
Zack agreed: “I liked to see the others power, too.”
And Addison just enjoyed meeting new friends: “I liked to hang out with the other cabins.”
Weary from their day of heroic challenges, these campers headed for a yummy lunch of mac ‘n’ cheese and then retreated to their cabins for menucha, rest time! Roxie, AJ and Sarah said that menucha was their favorite activity of the day because it’s the perfect time to rest, play games, and get to know your bunkmates better.
Next up were Chugim, where campers could pick from Israeli food, science, sports, archery and Jewish stuffed animals.
- In the Israeli food chug, kids explored Jewish foods and their Jewish heritage. Jonah said that the best part of the chug was that they get to make and eat Israeli food.
- In the science chug, the kids had a challenge to build a tower from spaghetti and marshmallow. Ellie said she loved the fact that her group won – and got to eat the marshmallows.
- Zack got a kick out of soccer, while Rabbie tried his shot at archery.
- Campers like Maya and Roxie really enjoyed the Jewish stuffed animals chug, where the kids drew their own “shemansters” with plans to sew them later.
Like the chugim, every camper gets tons of chances to test their skills and try totally new ones. It’s these little feats and mini successes that make camp an epicenter for inner growth. For example, Porsha, Zoe and Geffen told us how really proud they were to pass the swim test. And Kitty told us how excited she was to try archery for the very first time. Almost daily, these campers are discovering new talents unique to them, that they are made in the image of God, that they are each a super hero full of potential with the power for good.
After “breakfast for dinner” (Stella, Cara and Oliver agree that “the waffles are the best thing at camp”), a session-wide race (that Zack and Sarah especially loved), breicha and a bit of music, it was finally time for these campers to sing siyum, say the shema and drift off to sleep – to dream of their next exciting day at camp when they can use their newfound super powers again.