Camp’s Everyday Leaders

  • There are so many formal opportunities for our campers to develop leadership skills at camp.  We have our Big Brother and Big Sister programs, BLT (Bog Leadership Training) and the planning of camp events such as spirit night and banquet.  However, as leadership was introduced last Shabbat as the value of the week, I did not think about these official projects. Instead I pictured the informal, grassroots examples of leadership that we see every day at camp.

    As usual, we used Shabbat as an opportunity to relax and reflect on the past week. At the close of Shabbat, we shared Havdalah as a community and looked forward to the week ahead.  As soon as Havdalah ended, a few of our youngest campers approached Dan to ask if they could help lead future Havdalah services.  These young musicians saw an opportunity to be leaders at camp and seized the moment.  We can’t wait to hear their music next week and see them stand out as leaders in our community.

    Saturday night was the first camper talent show of the season.  Being able to get up on stage and perform in front of 500 people takes talent. It also takes courage, confidence and creativity, all things that we think of when we think of leadership.  These camp role models played the flute, the drums and sang. Tevya sure does have talent!

    While some kids showed their talent on the stage, others shined on the courts as Tevya hosted the Bog Volleyball Tournament, and we sent campers to Camp Young Judaea to participate in the Doubles Tennis Tournament on Sunday. Our Volleyball players showed leadership through good sportsmanship, a positive attitude and camp spirit.  I loved watching them motivate each other to continue to do their best, even when down in points.  Our second place win was celebrated by the entire community. We also celebrated the return of our Tennis Tournament participants, including the Senior Girls team and the Senior Boys team, who both won first place.

    I enjoyed walking around camp on Monday and Tuesday and seeing all of camp participating in camp activities.  As I looked beyond running, dancing and canoeing, I saw so many examples of leadership. I saw returning campers teaching new campers the motions of the Birkhat, campers picking up trash that others left behind, and campers cheering on a friend who stood up on waterskis for the first time.  I saw a group of campers leading the Modeh Ani at morning flag and a group of campers reminding friends to take off their hats as we sang Hatikvah at flag lowering. I also joined in a meditation session that followed a Boot Camp class on the Tsof field.  As the meditation ended, the counselor leading the class explained the importance of taking care of yourself as part of health and wellness. This staff member took the initiative to incorporate this essential life skill into his lesson.

    I was so happy to be asked to go on the traditional 9thgrade trip to the Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center and Attitash in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  When we arrived at the Highland Center, we were broken up into hiking groups.  My group hiked 3.2 miles and saw the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire. It was beautiful!  Along the way, campers encouraged each other to keep going even though it was challenging, to drink more water to stay hydrated and to celebrate the fact that we were healthy enough to take advantage of this opportunity. They also distracted each other by singing as we climbed.  Each of the campers in my group stood out as leaders in their own way, and each of them impressed me with their kindness and positive attitude.  When the group came back together at the end of our hikes, we participated in field games and bonding activities before dinner.  The evening campfire with camper led stories and songs was the perfect conclusion to our day.  Of course, Thursday’s much anticipated trip to Attitash was fun for all.

    While our 9thgraders were in the White Mountains, our 10thgraders were at Three Rivers in Maine. This trip included a strenuous hike on Wednesday, where campers and staff supported and encouraged each other to make it to the much-worth-it top!  The highlight of the trip was white water rafting on Thursday. The large group was divided into multiple rafting groups and each raft traveled 12 miles down the Kennebunk River with exhilarating class 4 rapids. An important aspect of leadership is teamwork and collaboration, and each rafting group had to work together to accomplish the goal of getting down the river.

    With the Bogrim and Bogrot out of camp on Wednesday, the Oles and Tsofs had a day of alternative programming.  Each age group traveled to a variety of activities including an omelette breakfast, free swim, athletics, arts and crafts and Path to Rhythm. Path to Rhythm is a unique educational program that includes an introduction to drumming through activities and games.  With a goal of unity and connection through rhythm, this special program was engaging and fun. In arts and crafts, each age group used popsicle sticks to make one letter of “TEVYA,” together creating a 3-dimensional camp sign.

    On Thursday, the Oles and Tsofs traveled to Canobie Lake Park, where they enjoyed the amusement rides. All of camp, except for Birya and Tel Chai, were back in time for our traditional Thursday night Barbeque. Birya and Tel Chai arrived back at camp later that night and were welcomed home by Kinneret’s and Tel Yehuda’s traditional approved pranks. The Birya bunk became a circus tent and the Tel Chai bunks became a beach.  It is always fun to see the creativity of our 9thgraders as they plan and create themed pranks each year.

    Tonight, our community will reflect on the past week with gratitude for this week’s adventures out of camp and experiences inside of camp. Personally, I will reflect on my gratitude for all the camp leaders I have the privilege of working with. Our Head Counselors, Department Heads and support staff members are so dedicated to their job and lead with passion and heart.  Our counselors are amazing role models who encourage your children to find their own unique way to shine as leaders.  And our children, your children, continue to inspire me everyday as the camp leaders of today and the community leaders of tomorrow.

    Shabbat Shalom

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