When I first learned about Camp Tzadi, I was tremendously excited. I mean, what teen wouldn’t want to spend ten days with a bunch of other teens of the same faith in the gorgeous Wisconsin Dells?
We found out about it in March of 2017, and I started filling out applications almost as soon as my parents said I could go. We sent all the papers in and about three days later I got an email with the happy news—I had been accepted for camp! I was really happy because that meant that I would be able to get to know some close family friends better and meet new friends as well! It was also exciting for me to not have to explain why I don’t eat pork, or why I don’t do things on Saturday. The people I would be around would be doing the same things that I do, so that was another big aspect of my excitement.
As months turned into weeks, and weeks to days, my anticipation grew. I was so excited that I even began counting hours and minutes. Finally, the day arrived, and I left for camp. By the time I left camp, I knew that all of the excitement, all of the adrenaline that I had felt before camp did not come even close to measuring up to my camp experience.
The morning prayers, to begin with, were fantastic. Just about all of us went to camp not knowing more than the Shma, and about three days later, we were jumping and singing and dancing like we had known the prayers all our lives.
The lessons by Toby Janicki were fascinating and applicable. He is an engaging teacher, and the discussion questions in our workbook made us think and talk about the importance of being “Supernatural.” I have never had anyone question my faith. It has always been, “Oh, that’s cool!” and that was it. The lessons helped prepare me for when someone does ask questions. Even when it’s hard, we still need to stand out, to be “out of the ordinary,” to not go along with the crowd, to be “Supernatural.”
The activities—what did we do? Well, what did we not do? We played soccer, volleyball, and Capture the Flag. The Camp Tzadi staff came up with an unnamed game that was an absolute blast. We went swimming, rock climbing, horseback riding, high and low ropes. We had Israel Day. We did crafts; we did scavenger hunts; we had campfires. We sang—pretty much all day, every day; at meals, en route to somewhere, around the campfires. We even had dance parties where the Israeli counselors would blare Israeli music, and we’d break out in an all-out dance party—that was one of the highlights of my camp experience! All those things were a big part of camp, and it was really neat to see different people come out of their shells.
I made some amazing friends. My color team was a great group of teens, as was my cabin. We laughed together, we cried together, we competed against each other; and that made us all family. Camp became like a second home to a lot of us, and we all became very good friends.
Camp Tzadi offered a time for me to reconnect with God; to get a better perspective on my relationship with him. This was my reset button, one that I had needed for many years. This is a community that we will be able to go to every year and reconnect with God and re-establish our love for Israel and the Jewish people.
Shayna Michael spoke at opening ceremonies about how this was the first year of Camp Tzadi, and how we are the ones who are making and establishing the traditions and legacy that Messianic teens will look up to for a very long time. That sent shivers down my spine. To think that we—Messianic teens who think we can’t do anything to change the world—are the first campers at Camp Tzadi, which has the potential to change the lives of so many teens and young adults. It has already changed mine.
We are establishing traditions.
We are the legacy.
We are the beginning.
We are the next generation.