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Shabbat services, fun activities like ziplining and Maccabiah make great memories

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Becca, Naomi, Lilly, and Emma at Camp Wise, summer 2021. (Photo: Supplied)

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This summer I went to Camp Wise, an overnight camp in Chardon, Ohio, which is about 45 minutes from my house. In 2020 I didn’t get to go because of the coronavirus so I was on pins and needles until I found out camp would indeed happen this year. Yes! COVID-19 ruined my year of camp in 2020 and after that, I marked off every day until summer 2021. 

The most fun part of camp is seeing friends that I don’t always get to see until the summer. I go to camp for seven weeks, which is two different sessions. That means I spend four weeks of camp with my three best friends and then for the second session a new group of kids come and I get to hang out with them. 

I started Camp Wise at seven years old, in 2016, when I was going into second grade. That year I went to the camp’s introductory program, which lasts two weeks. For the next three summers I attended camp for four weeks. After that I begged my mom to let me go longer because I love, love, love camp. She said “yes,” and I felt like I could bounce off the walls with joy. I was on cloud nine! Camp is expensive but my mom somehow makes this possible for me. My mom is the greatest! 

I met my three best friends Becca, Lilly, and Emma in 2016 and 2017. We became really close and because we don’t get to see each other all the time during the school year, camp is always a big reunion where we spend four weeks eating, sleeping, and hanging out 24/7. Becca and Lilly live in Cleveland so we do actually see each other a lot. Sadly, Emma lives in Columbus so we see her once or twice during the school year when she visits us. 

As camp neared, my friends and I could hardly contain our excitement for June 13! As soon as we got to camp the counselors cheered at our arrival. My best friends and I were assigned our cabin, unpacked, and immediately started making friendship bracelets out of string. By the end of the summer, my wrist would be filled with beautiful, colorful patterns. 

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A week later it was Shabbat! Everyone showers, gets dressed up, and walks down to the forest chapel. Unfortunately, this year it rained on the first couple of Shabbats, plus we had to social distance. After the first week we didn’t have any social distance anymore. Shabbat was still great. My favorite meal at camp is Saturday lunch. We have cold cuts every week on Saturday and they are delicious. Eating good food is one of the best parts of the Jewish day of rest.  

Over the next few weeks, I had so much fun. Campers get to choose chugs, which are activities. Some of my chugs were pottery and extreme ropes. Extreme ropes means ziplining, swinging on a giant swing, and a “leap of faith,” where you jump off a platform and try to touch a carton. I’ve never managed to touch the carton. It’s so hard. Zipline is really fun because I like the speed and flying above the woods. 

One week my village, which is called Noar, had Shabbat. As a Shabbat mitzvah, I made thank you cards for the maintenance staff. During the Saturday morning services Becca and I said a prayer together on the bema in front of the whole camp. I loved standing up there in front of my fellow campers, with my best friend. 

Naomi Baskind and her friend Becca leading Shabbat services at Camp Wise in Ohio. (Photo: Supplied)

The first session came to an end, way too soon, and I said goodbye to Becca, Lilly, and Emma. The last night of camp is CW night, where we watch photomontages and videos reviewing the camp session. We sing camp songs and goodbye songs, and the village supervisors give speeches about how great their village was.

During the intersession, my mom visited me at camp. I loved walking her around the camp grounds, showing her my cabin, and catching up. It’s hard to communicate with letters because of the lag time and also, she says, my handwriting is sometimes bad so she can’t read what I’m telling her.

A couple of days later my new friends arrived for the second session. While the first session of camp is four weeks, the second is three weeks. I have some great friendships there too. I had a couple of friends from the year prior, but they ended up not coming back. Luckily my soon-to-be new friends Olivia and Emily were put in my cabin. I made a gazillion bracelets, laughed a lot, and was just so, so happy! When our village’s time to lead Shabbat rolled around, I danced for the whole camp to see rather than write thank you cards. I said a prayer on the bema with my friend Halle and had two more amazing Shabbats. Of course there were cold cuts each time.

Proudly wearing her tie-dyed Camp Wise T-shirt, Naomi Baskind is flanked by her friends Olivia (R) and Emily (L). (Photo: Supplied)

A highlight during the second session was Maccabiah, which is also known as color wars. Camp is split into four teams. My color was tie-dye. First session was green. But the second session was better because my team won! In the five years I’ve been at camp, my team has never won before. During Maccabiah we cheer, make skits, dances, and songs, and we do challenges. I did a diving challenge. 

Every summer CW focuses on a Jewish core value. This year it was Tikkun Olam. We were asked to not litter and to be nice to people. The camp focuses on this value religiously, pun intended, and every week we all cleaned up camp. We talked about repairing the world literally and mentally. I would be kind to everyone anyway but it’s good to hear that’s a core Jewish value, too.

Summer 2021 at Camp Wise was one of the best summers yet! I’m already counting the days until the next camp season begins. And that’s June 12. I have it marked on my calendar.

Naomi Baskind is a Jewish girl growing up in Cleveland. She is on the local swim team and loves reading fiction. Naomi is a member of the Global Jewish Pen Pal program.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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