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Oklahoma City Jewish camp's zany Maccabiah Games help students learn

Faith in the summer: Camp Chaverim in Oklahoma City mixes Jewish faith traditions and culture with the typical fun of summer camp.
by Carla Hinton Modified: July 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm •  Published: July 5, 2014

Campers yelled cheers as they wheeled their team mascots — watermelons — around in baby strollers.

They made canoes out of pool noodles for a canoe race in a swimming pool. They brought silly bribes like doughnut holes, Mardi Gras beads and a potato to the counselors who were judging their every move. Some climbed to the top of a mountain of dirt to recite a quote from an epic movie.

Such was the controlled chaos of Maccabiah Day at Camp Chaverim, the Jewish day camp at Temple B’nai Israel. The annual summer camp is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.

Pamela Richman, the camp’s longtime director, said the premise of the activity-filled day is a twist on the Maccabiah Games, an athletic competition often called the “Jewish Olympics,” held every four years in Israel.

She said the games are a popular tradition among campers. Even the smallest campers, the preschoolers, participated in a bean bag challenge, water bucket relay, tug-of-war and relay race.

Ethan Gutierrez, the camp counselor in charge of the day’s activities, said he and other counselors brainstormed to come up with creative, fun and educational things for the campers to do.

“The ultimate goal of the entire day is unapologetic silliness. That’s the best way to describe it,” he said, grinning.

Richman said youths enjoy many traditional summer camp activities, like swimming, arts and crafts and field trips, at Camp Chaverim.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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Camp Chaverim

When: Monday through Friday through July 25.

Where: Temple B’nai Israel, 4901 N Pennsylvania.

Ages: 2 to 14.

Information: 848-3132 or


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