Ally's Jewish Overnight Camp Experience
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Hi, my name is Ally and I have been going to Camp Wise for 5 years. The first time I came to camp I went for two weeks and the only thing I remember thinking the entire time was “wow, I wish I could go for a whole month!” Soon, that month turned into my whole summer. I have made lifelong friends with my cabin mates, fellow villagers, counselors, and really the entire camp. Camp Wise has given me tons of once in a lifetime experiences from whitewater rafting on level 5 rapids down the New River in West Virginia, to tremendously messy food fights, to waking up in the middle of the night to try to prank our counselors. Sometimes while I am there, relaxing by the pool or in my cabin, I just take a look around and think about how lucky I am to be able to go to such an amazing place. There is not a moment at camp that I am not enjoying.
When I think of camp, I think of a place where everyone can be themselves, make everlasting friends, have amazing experiences, and learn important Jewish values. Going to Camp Wise has truly shaped the way I view Judaism and God. It has brought me closer to God and has made me extremely proud to be Jewish. Our song sessions and beautiful Shabbats help me get closer to my religion and Israel. Even when you don’t know it, camp is teaching you valuable Jewish values that you will use for the rest of your life. Camp has taught me to be extremely thankful for what I have and what I am able to do. By doing service projects and leading Shabbat, I feel like I am really able to take on my role as part of the Jewish community.
Through camp, I have met wonderful people from across the world. I now have friends from Florida, England, Australia, and Israel. There is only one bad part of camp, and that is saying goodbye to the people who have impacted your life by being your friend. At Camp Wise, your counselors aren't just your counselors; they are your best friends. Though there might be divisions like cabins and villages, it really doesn't matter. Everyone is friends no matter what age. Younger and older campers that I have met through Maccabia and song sessions have stayed friends with me from summer to summer. Though I don’t know everybody at camp, I consider each person my friend. We are a tight-knit community of different individuals who all come together for a few weeks a year to share life-changing experiences and our friendship.
One camp memory that has resonated with me was receiving the honor of being village candle for Noar, my age group of 8th and 9th graders. What this means was that my village’s counselors decided that I embodied the camp spirit. On the last night of camp, in the midst of all the crying, I got up to give a speech in front of everyone. After explaining the crazy way I was woken up in the middle of the night and told me I was village candle, this included me serenading a tree and having a Maccabia named after me, I got to explain what camp means to me. It meant so much to me to be able to tell the entire camp how much they all mean to me. “Being village candle is such an honor. I’m humbled to be able to represent the amazing village of Noar. Camp Wise is my favorite place on Earth and truly is the home of happiness. Thank you to all of camp for making this the best year ever.”
Whenever I am having a tough day, I think about camp’s crazy nightly programs, the late nights up talking with my cabin, and the hilarious wipe outs of me and my friends falling off of jet skis and tubes. I count down the days until I get to go back. And in case you were wondering, there are 180 more days until camp starts again and these days can’t go by any slower. But I know when I get to camp; the 4 weeks will go by in a blink of an eye. This summer I will be in Solel, my last year as a camper. I have been waiting for 5 years for this summer to come, but now that it’s here, I never want it to end. I already consider my age group to be family and I can’t wait to travel around the country with them. I cannot imagine a world without camp and I don’t even want to try. This is the last year of the mud fights, the last year of the late night talks, the last year of the crazy Maccabias, and the last year of day trips to cedar points and waterparks. I am so unbelievably sad that this chapter of camp is coming to a close, but I can’t wait to be a counselor! Before I go, I want to leave you with this quote. “That’s the magic of camp. It gets ahold of your heart and never let’s go.”