Jewish Life at Camp
At camp, “Jewish” isn’t just a concept we wave to in the outfield, it’s a way of life to be explored and celebrated. Woven throughout camp, Jewish values, ritual, and culture remain at the center of our lineup and resonate with all campers of any age or background.
We begin each day with Morning Huddle where we wake up our bodies and minds by singing the “wake up song” Modeh Ani, doing a stretch or warm up, and sharing a daily kavanah (Hebrew for “intention”). We come back to the kavanah at the end of the day during our Evening Huddle, honoring campers who exemplified that value. To close each day we sing our camp song, Fly, to remind us that tomorrow is a new day and that we can all accomplish great things. “I will run, I will fly, I will look my fear in the eye / Faster, higher, stronger / I know I can fly.”
For more on how Judaism is an organic part of camp culture, read about our core values.
Shabbat is a central component of the Jewish experience at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp.
On Friday afternoon, we have a slightly different schedule to allow campers and staff to prepare for our Shabbat celebration. Cabins participate in various activities such as yoga, writing Shabbat Shalom cards to friends, learning from a guest Rabbi about the Torah portion, Israeli dancing, challah braiding, or preparing the dining hall for our special Friday evening meal.
When we gather in our Shabbat Garden for Kabbalat Shabbat – Welcoming the Sabbath – our community comes together to reflect on the week we’ve spent together — the skills we learned, the friends we made, the community we created. We sing songs, tell stories, and enjoy our time together as a community after a busy week separated by our sports and age groups.
Before dinner we light the Shabbat candles, bless the grape juice, and sing a rousing edition of HaMotzi (a blessing acknowledging our thanks for the food we’re about to eat). After dinner we spend time with our cabins and end the evening with s’mores around the campfire.
In the morning we have a later breakfast followed by our Shabbat Morning experience, where campers have the opportunity to see the Torah as it’s read and lively melodies fill the Shabbat Garden with song.
Shabbat continues on Saturday as Core Sports are replaced with free time and recreational sports so that we can rest and rejuvenate after a long week. We close Shabbat with a short but meaningful Havdallah service, recognizing the end of Shabbat and the start of the new week.
We are proud to welcome and celebrate all types of families, including interfaith families. The Jewish experience at JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is accessible to campers and staff members who come from diverse families, and we take great pride in the fact that the Jewish programming is engaging, thought-provoking, and meaningful to campers and staff from all religious and ethnic backgrounds.
A survey conducted after our first summer (2014) by an outside evaluation team showed that about 25-30% of our campers come from interfaith families.
We are excited to be working with InterfaithFamily to support our campers and staff from interfaith families and to ensure that our camp is a welcoming place for all.