Welcome Ben!

  • Camp Tevya and the Cohen Camps are pleased to welcome Ben Portnoy to our full-time staff. Ben and I have already started working together to Screen Shot 2012-09-10 at 7 51 29 PMprepare for summer 2013. I am thrilled to introduce Ben to all of you.

    Mindee: While new to this position, you are not new to Camp Tevya. Tell us about your experience with Camp.

    Ben: My first summer at camp was 1997. I started in Yavneh. My older brother and sister were there, and my mom had been to Tevya as a camper and a counselor. I went to camp for only the first session. Sessions were four weeks then and at the end of my first four weeks at Tevya, I wanted to stay for the next four weeks. Without realizing it, I had found my summer home, made life-long best friends, and was about to experience living “ten for two” for the first time in my life. I had entered the “Tevya Bubble” and there was no looking back.

    I returned the following summer for two sessions and met the kids that are still my best friends to this day. Each summer became better than the last, and I learned more about myself and gained more life skills at Tevya than anywhere else; a statement that holds true all the way through last summer when I returned as the Assistant Program Director for my 10th Tevya summer.

    Mindee: From the moment we first started talking about this position, I could tell it was something that meant a lot to you. Why is this position so important to you?

    Ben: In all honesty, Tevya has given me so much over the years and I had the chance to be able to give back. That’s the short answer. The long answer is that before last summer, my last summer at camp was 2005. I thought my Tevya days were behind me. When I was hired as the Assistant Program Director last February, I had no idea how much returning to camp after seven years would mean to me.

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    The feeling I got out of being able to directly contribute to the happiness of our campers was remarkable. Yes, it was planning an Iron Chef night, a camp fire, a last-minute fashion show with garbage bags and duct tape, and getting up on stage in front of the entire camp in a Batman costume, but it was also working with an awesome group of counselors to plan and execute one of the best Color Wars ever. It was planning trips, and just working to give kids an amazing summer. I felt proud of the work that I was doing and I was happy knowing that I was making campers happy. That is not something that many people can say about their jobs, so why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to do it year-round?

    Mindee: Tell us about your experience leading to you here?

    Ben: I was a camper for seven summers from 1997-2003, a CIT and a counselor. After a seven year hiatus, I returned last summer as the Assistant Program Director. While my time and experience growing up at Tevya, including last summer, prepared me for this job, I believe my time away from Tevya is just as important.

    I graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010 with a B.A. in English and Sociology. While there, I wrote for the UVM newspaper and had an internship at a local newspaper. While I love writing, I learned that writing is most rewarding when it involves something I care about. This job provides me with the opportunity to write about something I care very much about: Tevya.

    For the past few years, I have worked as an After School Counselor in elementary schools in South Burlington, Vermont and in Natick, Massachusetts. Working with kids again reminded me not just how important the role of a counselor is, but also how rewarding, and how tiring it

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    This position puts me in a unique position where I can utilize the personal, literary, organizational, and leadership skills that I have acquired since my first day at Tevya. I am not far removed from being a counselor, and will never be far removed from the mindset of a camper. I believe I can use my perspective to effectively enhance the camper and counselor experience not just at Tevya, but at all three Cohen Camps.

    Mindee: Tell us what you will be doing during the off-season?

    Ben: I will be working full-time as the Camp Registrar for Camp Tevya and the Cohen Camps. I will be helping the camps prepare for the summer. I will be working on parent and camper communications using social media. I am also excited to assist with counselor recruitment and retention, and alumni efforts. I am excited to work with the alumni to build upon the success of our efforts this past summer as we strengthen the ties with the entire Tevya community. Basically, I will be working “ten” to ensure that the “two” are the best that they can be.

    Mindee: And back at camp next summer?

    Ben: I will have some of the same responsibilities as last year when it comes to planning evening activities, trips and Color War. I will be continuing the efforts we started last summer to further engage the entire Tevya community through our communications.

    Mindee: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

    Ben: I love the team that we have in place at Tevya and I hope to be a part of it as long as I feel that I have something positive to contribute. I’m already looking forward to Summer 2013 and I can’t wait to have everyone together again soon.

    Mindee: Thank you so much Ben. I know the entire Tevya community welcomes you with our full Teyva spirit and looks forward to working with you as you continue to bring happiness to our campers, staff, alumni and families.

    Ben can be reached at the Cohen Camps office at bportnoy@cohencamps.org or 781-489-2070.

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