Shoafim – Operation Kibush Tzad Bet
Hey Shoafim friends and family,
Yesterday, while tzad bet was all away at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires for their day of sports competitions, we in Shoafim seized the opportunity of an empty tzad bet to leave our mark on camp and show the rest of Ramah who, in fact, is the best edah. Operating in secrecy and stealth, our edah implemented "Operation Kibush Tzad Bet" (kibush in Hebrew means "conquest"). The programming for the day arose out of the goal to help prepare our hanichim for the transition to tzad bet next summer, which brings with it the transitions into Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Jewish — as well as secular — adulthood.
The morning began with a rush to tzad bet (see the video below), during which the hanichim donned war-paint and carried all of our conquest supplies with us to set up a base camp just outside the entrance to tzad bet. After that, we employed a reconnaissance mission across the tzad bet migrash, wherein we hid various blocks of wood painted with fun facts about numerous key tzad bet locations. These blocks became the basis of our m'simot (missions) for the day. Each location represented on the blocks of wood was a different location that we would conquer after systematically completing a task at that location. The tasks included activities that will help prepare our hanichim to be tzad bet campers, like learning songs and dances unique to tzad bet, learning games that every edah plays when they get to Machon or Nivonim, and learning fire-building skills that will help prepare our hanichim for etgar (their camping trip) as tzad bet campers.
This physical conquest itself was completed by erecting a flag — per bunk — in the ground at each key location, which we subsequently marked off on our tzad bet map that was hung up at our base camp. In order to successfully carry out our conquest, we spent the morning creating our flags. First, the edah learned about symbols and how we find meaning in symbols. Spreading out a series of common cultural symbols — i.e. Nike, American flag, etc. — the hanichim were prompted to identify with a symbol that represents certain aspects of their lives for them. After the discussion that ensued, we talked about what kind of person we want to be when we grow up and become Jewish adults and tzad bet campers, and furthermore how we might represent ourselves in a symbol. The hanichim then created their own stamps out of wood blocks and sponges, some choosing to represent themselves as stars, hearts, saxophones, or the first letter of their name, among others. Using these stamps, we stamped out designs on fabric that later became the flags we used to conquer tzad bet. By figuring out how we represent ourselves based on what kind of person we want to be, only then can we truly make our mark on a community. This was the main lesson of the day.
Part of the transition to tzad bet is the shift from the individual to the communal and recognizing our crucial role as one ingredient of a larger group dynamic. To help illustrate this, the Shoafimers spent the evening after dinner stamping one last time for the summer, this time on t-shirts instead of flags. Laying out 53 plain white t-shirts, the hanichim stamped each t-shirt in the room and wrote their name next to their stamp. Now, when the hanichim each take home a t-shirt, they will be bringing with them a piece of camp that, in one t-shirt, illustrates the way in which an edah is truly made up of one individual…plus another…plus another…a mosaic of individuals with common goals and interests.