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Summer Days at the J!

Posted on 30 July 2009 by admin

Competition makes everyone a winner!

By Laura Seymour

Maccabiah at Camp Chai means more than competition — there is always a story that challenges campers to work together as well as to compete. Contests range from sporting events to creative songwriting and even cleaning up. At the start of the week, the children began looking for clues and a map that would lead to a treasure left by Camp Chai campers from the past. Maccabiah became the way to get the clues and find the treasure.

Teams were colored Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. Kids and counselors were dressed in their team colors from head to toe! This spirited group could not wait for the games to start. Campers began with the traditional tug-of-war, competed in swimming events, created a commercial for a charity and then raised money for that cause — and even got points for bringing food to donate to the Jewish Family Service Food Bank. Throughout the day, clues pointed to pieces of the treasure map. After announcing the winning squad (the Blue Team!), Camp Director Laura Seymour read the final clue, which led to the treasure on the roof of the JCC. The message in the treasure box was, “The best treasures of Camp Chai are your friends and your memories. You may leave camp, but camp will never leave you.” And every camper received a chai necklace. All at Camp Chai were winners!

Camp Chai musical enthralls audience

By Jared Cohen

Campers portrayed a “tale as old as time” for the audience at the Jewish Community Center. This year’s summer musical at Camp Chai charmed the audience with magical talent.

“Beauty and the Beast Junior,” directed by Jessica Barnett, contained a cast of over 30 campers, ranging from second to sixth grade, as well as several teenage staff members. Children who weren’t in the production also helped by building the set and props. Their collaborative efforts included making a working invention for Belle’s father, Maurice. A great deal of work had to be done. Brooke Fein, who played one of the Narrators, said, “Though it was a really tough show, we knew we could do it thanks to Jessica’s encouragement. She believed in us!”

This is the sixth summer of directing the camp musical for Jessica, who just completed her Bachelor of Arts in theater from the University of Southern California.

Jessica’s goal this summer was to teach theatrical concept to the campers. “I really wanted to do something artistic with young children,” she explained. “Even at a young age, I knew these campers could grasp intricate theater concepts. However, these children exceeded my expectations.”

The entire set and costumes were black and white except for Belle, the one who broke the spell set on the castle and townspeople. Along the way, Belle used colored set pieces to symbolize that she and the beast were falling in love. Once the spell was broken, the audience was spellbound by the colorful costumes.

The performance was a great experience for everyone. Sarah Balis, who portrayed Cogsworth, said “I can’t believe this is my last show. I will miss it so much!” Junior counselors, who were performers in Jessica’s first camp show, also assisted with the production. Megan Spinhirne stated, “I’ve had a great time working on both sides of the spectrum. And now I really appreciate all the work that goes into these shows.”

There was a place for everyone at this summer’s production. Whether on or off stage, each member of the cast and crew played a crucial role in the success of the show!

Jared Cohen is a former Camp Chai counselor and theater assistant.

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