By Hannah Jay
When people think of the most hyped event at camps, they often think of color war, or Maccabiah. It’s a way for campers to participate in a variety of competitions while getting to work in teams. It’s a day (or more) of intense activities, chanting and cheering, and getting all of this energy built up in order to let it out.
But Sci-Tech is different. We love challenge, but we also place kesher (connection) as one of our most important values. Sure, Maccabiah has teamwork, but the energy it requires is not the form that comes from most Sci-Tech campers.
After years of experimenting and evaluating what was best for our campers, Quest Day was born. It takes our favorite parts of Maccabiah – its teamwork, its passion – and combines it with what makes Sci-Tech truly unique. What was originally inspired by RPGs (role-play games) such as DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) has continued to evolve and take shape over this summer.
Brainstorming for Quest Day began with some members of the PROLO (Programming and Logistics) team a few months before camp. We had a day each session that we wanted to infuse with something structured and fun, and we landed on RPGs. Role playing games and other similar activities are an important part of camp. It’s already been a part of camp in our LARP (Live Action Role Play) workshop and kinesthetic, our TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Games) and DnD chugim (electives), and more.
But settling on just an ordinary RPG wasn’t going to cut it, because it was something that campers already had the opportunity to experience. This is where our inspiration and learning from Maccabiah came into play – how could we take this concept of DnD and turn it into something larger than life, something that inspires teamwork, collaboration, and fun?
We begin Quest Day by adding a twist to our Boker Big Bang. Maybe something goes wrong, maybe our heroes interrupt us, but regardless of how it happens, our intention is to launch Quest day by adding even more fun to an already exciting part of our day.
We follow this up with what can be considered a training ground. Campers participate in activities to gain skill points for their respective characters. We offer a wide variety of activities ranging from more physical, such as LARP, to more mental ones, such as puzzles. For example, if they complete a physical challenge, their character gets stronger physically. Campers get to choose the activities they enjoy, and some try to balance out their characters’ skills as much as possible.
Part two of Quest Day consists of longer forms of programming that are run by our Unit Heads. They theme it with the rest of Quest Day, which for today was Pirates (Space and Superheroes were the themes for the previous sessions). These have included engineering challenges, decorating their characters, coming up with backstories, and more.
Participation in these challenges throughout the day culminates into the third part of Quest Day: the Final Quest. Here, our characters are up on stage, attempting to achieve their final goal in a live-action role play. Throughout this quest, campers are involved in their character’s decision making process, so they have a real impact on the outcome.
Our current structure for Quest Day, while not straying too far from our original plan, has definitely gone through some refinement. Something that’s really important to me and the programming team is asking for feedback. We knew Quest Day had potential, but during first session we noticed some bugs. We asked campers and staff for feedback, and started forming more leadership opportunities for tenth graders, as well as improving upon our Final Quest.
Quest Day has both been a success and a work in progress, and it’s a combination of what makes Sci-Tech the camp it is. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will continue to evolve in coming years and how our competitive collaboration will inspire teamwork, connection, and most importantly, fun.