Individual Efforts Build Strong Jewish Community
In our recent post celebrating our 5th summer we reflected on the growth and achievements of our community as a whole. Just like a sports team, the impact JMSC has in our community is a collection of individual efforts. For us, campers are the most important players on our team.
We have seen many athletes develop unique skills that show they’ve developed strength in character. During the summer of 2018, many of them were able to:
- Reflect on lessons learned and share with camp
- Model engagement & ownership of our camp culture
- Appreciate the supporters (parents, staff, & fellow campers) that fostered their growth
Below are Josh Pennington’s reflections shared with the entire camp at the closing of his fifth and final summer as a camper.
Camper Reflections on 5 Years of Maccabi Sports
On the final night of the final session of our 2018 summer, Josh Pennington shared reflections and guidance to younger campers. After 5 years as a camper, this was Josh’s final night as a camper.
Upon delivering the speech with heart and love, Josh walked over to Josh Steinharter, Camp Director, and they hugged. Amidst their embrace, Josh handed over his speech and said “I want you to have this so you can share it with others.”
“The last day I’ll ever be a camper. The last time I’ll say goodbye as I wait for my parents to pick me up.
I can still remember when Josh (Steinharter) came to my synagogue trying to get campers for a brand new Jewish sports camp. It sounded fun and I wasn’t disappointed. Session 3, 2014 had very few kids and it was awesome getting to know each one as well as the staff. I remember not having any maturity, but hey, what can you expect from a 12-year old.
Around this time for the last 4 years, I left camp eager to have another great camper experience next year. This year is different. Instead of happiness and excitement, I’m feeling sad and regretful. Regretful because I could have done more. Sad because I didn’t.
If I had known, or even thought about the future, I wouldn’t have messed around or been angry at other people. I wouldn’t’ve taken my camp days for granted.
And after 5 years, 6 sessions, 72 days, 1,728 hours, 103,680 minutes, 6,220,800 seconds, I’ve learned a couple lessons.
Treat people with respect. It’s fine to screw around a bit, but once they say it isn’t ok, stop. Include everyone, to a certain point. When playing a game, let others join in, even if you don’t know or like them. They will feel happy and who knows, maybe you will too. Get to know people. I find it uncomfortable to do things with strangers, and walking around camp not knowing someones name is kind of awkward.
And finally, have fun. You can’t be happy if you have no fun. Make everyday, every minute, every second more fun than the last. That is the only way to have a great camp experience, and that is the point of camp.
I challenge you all to make next year more fun and leave a positive mark on camp because one day you’ll be up here like me, wishing you could like this forever.”
– Josh Pennington
More Reflections from Campers
It often takes time and reflection for new and challenging experiences to become impactful. This is especially so of a summer camp that builds Jewish community in the way that we do.
Questions to ask your camper that attended last summer:
- What are some character moments that you’re proud of from last summer? How did you grow stronger in character at Maccabi?
- To learn from Josh’s reflections, what are some things you would like to have done differently?
- If you could give a new camper advice for their first summer, what would you tell them?
We will continue to share how campers reflect on their experiences attending Maccabi throughout the year. Please contact us if you or your camper have thoughts that you’d like to share with us.