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Monday, December 09, 2019

Summer 2017 was the fourth summer of NCSY’s Camp Maor. Camp Maor, founded by Sari Kahn, is a performing arts camp for girls located in the Poconos. Every year, Maor campers have the opportunity to study music, dance and drama, culminating in a final performance consisting of song-dance for women only, and drama for men and women.

Maor began with three divisions: Miriam, Esther and Rivka. This year, Maor introduced a new age division called the Leadership Cohort for girls going into grades 10 and 11. I am going into 10th grade so I was part of the Leadership Cohort (LC). As the LC we were given leadership training in addition to doing our own play for the final performance. Our leadership training was very helpful.

Every day we had Leadership Time with different staff members at Maor. Each staff member worked on a different project with us. The camp director, Sari Kahn, worked with us on a project called Super Friends. We worked on developing our own superhero personas, and we are planning to visit children in hospitals as our superhero selves and cheer them up a little bit. All of us decided to spread Super Friends all over the country, by each girl in the LC bringing it back to her hometown and/or school. Another Leadership Time project was working on a music video for pre-Shabbos ruach every Friday. We chose a song and went all around camp, asking campers and staff members to be in it. We, of course, also starred in the video and had a great time.

Another thing LC had was a separate play from the other divisions. The younger divisions, Miriam, Esther and Rivka, performed the play “A Little Princess”; we performed the play “Twelve Angry Women.” In addition to acting in the play, we helped create the set and props, and we went thrifting for our own costumes. We worked really hard on the play all summer. Each character has many lines, so we all had to spend a lot of time running lines. We also spent days doing character-building exercises so that we really became our characters. The basic plot of “Twelve Angry Women” is that there is a jury of 12 women for a murder trial who had to decide whether or not the boy on trial was guilty of killing his father. If they convicted him, he would receive the death penalty. In order to vote “not guilty,” they didn’t have to think he was innocent, they just had to find a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. At first, every single juror, except for Juror 8, voted guilty. The entire play is the jurors talking and arguing over all the testimony given. In the end, Juror 8 convinces all of them to vote “not guilty.” Each juror is unique, and therefore we each had to really show off our characters because each character represented a type of person. For example, Juror 10 represented the bigoted people in this world. Every single girl developed her character perfectly and everyone was amazing in the final performance. I played Juror 11. I was an immigrant, and I learned an accent for my role. I am really pleased with the accent I developed and I love the character I created.

Another special thing the Leadership Cohort did was help run night activities. One night activity we ran was called “See. Run. Dance.” We choreographed a dance to part of the song “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. The camp was split into teams, and each team was divided into parts: the seers, runners and dancers. We performed our dance to the seers, they told the runners and the runners told the dancers. Then the dancers performed the dance in front of the camp. We had to decide which group did the dance the best, based only on the runners’ description. We then performed the dance and shouted out the winners at the end of the dance. None of the teams were even close to the dance, but there was a team that got most of the moves, just in the wrong order, so they won. It was a super-fun night activity. I think I would have enjoyed participating, but I enjoyed running it even more.

Every summer in camp we have something called majors, which can be acting, singing or dancing. The rest of the camp started their majors the first week. We in the LC started our majors after Tisha B’Av, leaving only a week before the Festival of the Arts (the night when every camper performs what she learned in her major). What the rest of the camp accomplished in two weeks, we accomplished in one. The dance major of the LC had four girls and they danced to the song “You Will Be Found,” from popular Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen.” The dance was remarkable and they got a standing ovation. It was truly incredible that they managed to perfect all of that in one week. I was in the acting major and we wrote our own monologues and then switched monologues with another person. We each performed our partner’s monologue and she directed it. Every monologue was set at the gate of an airport. Each person froze in a position while someone performed her monologue. It was super cool, because everyone really froze well.

Despite all the differences between the LC and the other divisions, the whole camp connected really well. Maor is a busy place with lots of activities, and many of the activities involved more than one division or the entire camp. I made many friends in the other divisions, as did my fellow Leadership Cohort friends. I would say the Leadership Cohort program at Camp Maor 2017 was a huge success!

Chava Schapiro, of Bergenfield is a rising sophomore at Bruriah High School.