GUCI Shtick 101

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Anyone who has spent a summer (or even a meal) at GUCI know we have a lot of shtick. Not familiar with that term? According to Wikipedia (valid source right?), a shtick (Yiddish: שטיק‎) is a comic theme or gimmick. The word entered the English language from the Yiddish shtik (שטיק), in turn derived from German Stück and Polish sztuka (both ultimately from Proto-Germanic *stukkiją), all meaning “piece” or “thing.”

Shtick is not specific only to GUCI, but something that is as synonymous with summer camp as campfires and s’mores. We yell silly things, we do absurd dance moves or just celebrate strange things, like curly fries. From seemingly random cheers in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) to unique cheers on Yom Sport (GUCI’s version of Color Wars), GUCI shtick can happen anywhere and anytime during the summer.

But why do we do it? Who started it? In this series, we will explore the history of GUCI shtick. Today, we start with three pieces of shtick (or seemingly random traditions) commonly found/heard/seen in Zionsville.

Green Team Cheer: “Holy Moly Guacamole, Avocadoes are Green!”

A classic Green Team cheer that is yelled all day on Yom Sport by the Green Team. Seems to have been around for forever, right? No! Former GUCI camper and staff member, Molly Krause tells us that this particular cheer actually originated in Kallah Aleph (first session) of 2000. A Shoresh camper, named Sara Gottschalk came up with it and taught it to the team. Well done Sara!

In Cabins 11-18, campers stand with their arms around each other as the Shabbat Walk comes through the area.

If you have joined us for a Shabbat at camp, you know we begin Friday evenings with a Shabbat Walk that starts in the “up-top” area, near our office, then goes through each of the cabin areas and ends with us all singing together in the Beit T’filah for services. Traditionally, song leaders kick off the Shabbat Walk and lead us in beautiful music throughout the walk. When we approach the area of cabins 11-18, you will notice the campers and staff all standing together with their arms around one another.

It is a beautiful tradition that former GUCI camper and staff member, now-turned Rabbi, Jon Kleinman tells us that this first began the summer of 2004 with himself, Matt Friedman and Chase Foster with more staff and eventually all the campers joining in.

Bastille Day

While not necessarily recognized each summer at camp, from time to time there is a celebration on July 14 known as Bastille Day. Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the national day of France, which is celebrated on July 14 each year. But why would this be celebrated at a Jewish summer camp?

Former GUCI camper and staff member, Reid Myers tells us that in 2005, the second session campers in Avodah got jealous that first session campers got a fun patriotic event (Fourth of July), but nothing for Kallah Bet.  One particularly creative Avodahnik, Harrison Weiss, decided they would begin to celebrate Bastille Day.  They got the then-program director, Rabbi Dan Schwartz on board and “ran around the old pool during roll call, and did something during lunch. We also ran around camp chanting ‘The Revolution is alive, Bastille Day 2005.’  At dinner, I think we did a dress-up-like-a-Frenchman competition, of which everyone was the winner” (because of course everyone is a winner at Goldman Union Camp Institute).

What is your favorite GUCI shtick and/or tradition? Do you have some background knowledge on one that you would like to share with us? Fill out this form and we might feature your story in our next post!

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