Welcome to our Tevya Bubble!

  • It has been 3 weeks since our support staff arrived from Mexico, Poland and Columbia to start preparing camp for the arrival of our campers.  Almost all of these college students are returners (2 for their 4th summer) or friends of returners, and they all call Tevya their summer home.  Some of these students work in our kitchen under the supervision of Chef Robert Brown, a Professor at Johnson and Wales University, and his leadership team from JWU.  As I walk into the kitchen each day, the sense of community is so strong and so positive.  As one staff member finished cutting the vegetables for the salad bar, he looked around to see who else needed help. Noticing that his friend was washing dishes alone, he rushed over to help her. This teamwork attitude is prevalent throughout the kitchen.  Walking around camp, I see our maintenance and housekeeping staff fixing a screen door, putting together our new bunk beds, and wiping down benches.  Our new caretakers, Deb and Steve Simard, clearly loving their new role, as they provide support to their staff and to all of camp.  Before anyone else has even arrived, the support staff have already built a strong camp community.

    The following week, I watched as our new and returning international staff got off the bus from Logan airport.  There were hugs and smiles, and it felt as if they were all coming home.  Which makes sense for the returning staff, but I had the same feeling from our new staff, staff who have never stepped foot into our bubble on Lake Potanipo in 03033. These staff members participated in our second annual Tevya 101, a full day of learning about Camp Tevya. This event was coordinated by our 2018 Cornerstone Fellows and our returning international staff. It was great to see a 4th year staff member from England break Color War, and it was even better to see the smiles of the staff during the shoe scramble and all camp relay. 

    A few days later, our Department Coordinators arrived at camp.  This year, for the first time, we had these experienced bunk counselors come earlier than the rest of the staff to engage in training that will help prepare them for their new leadership role at camp.  And then, that afternoon, the rest of our bunk staff arrived, and our staff community was complete! 

    The theme of this year’s staff orientation was Dare To… As we opened the week of orientation, we dared our staff to make new friends, to push through their areas of comfort, to forgive, and to try something they didn’t think they could do.  We dared them to use the week ahead to prepare themselves to be the best role models and counselors they could be and to become a staff community. The full week of activities included department time, an activity in which we identified our communication styles, and sessions on growth mindset, 21st century skills and camper care. Daily reflections occurred in our small Mish groups (short for Mishpacha, family).

    We acknowledged the very difficult offseason that our community faced with a memorial service. Losing staff members David Minn, and then Talia Newfield a few weeks later was unfathomable. Coming together as a community, sharing stories, and celebrating their lives in a place they both loved, brought comfort to our Tevya family.  

    Coming together from multiple countries and with multiple experiences, our staff was united; we were one strong community, ready to greet the 339 campers that arrived yesterday in the rain. After our traditional grilled cheese lunch, we rocked the house, actually the dining hall, with lively shira, singing favorite camp songs. In the afternoon, the Olim and Olot, our youngest campers got to know each other through Human Bingo. The Tsofim and Tsofot, our 7th and 8th grade campers loved the newly introduced iTunes memory.  When we played this game during staff week, we called it jukebox memory, but quickly realized our campers had no idea what a jukebox was, so we changed the name to something they could relate to.  Our Bogrim and Bogrot, our oldest campers engaged in conversations about the “Bog” experience at camp, and Birya and Tel Chai (our entering 10th graders) chose their banquet theme – but I can’t tell you because it is a secret. Our first day concluded with the much anticipated department skits, where each staff member introduced themselves through a song, dance or skit.  Those that lacked talent made up for it with enthusiasm and spirit.

    As we gathered around the flag this morning, I had the feeling that we never left camp after the 2017 season.  It felt like a continuation of last summer. It was a beautiful day, and I loved walking around camp and seeing all programming areas active with children.  The kids in the cheerleading class were so proud that they learned a routine in just one day.  The kids in Arts and Crafts showed me the necklaces they were making in Jewelry making, the key chains they were making in leather works and the rockets they were making in rocketry.  The waterfront was very active with swim tests, sailing, paddle boarding, and the lifeguard class. My favorite site was the campers laughing as they played in our 9 square court, because 4 squares just aren’t enough.

    This past week we focused on community mindfulness as we slowly welcomed member of our community into our home. Tonight in services we will introduce the value of the coming week with our new, catchy song, “Ma Middat HaShavuah?” (What is the value of the week?), written and sung by our Cornerstone fellows.  I can’t wait until next week when I share all the ways we saw courage in camp.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Mindee

One response to “Welcome to our Tevya Bubble!”

  1. Gabby Abrams says:

    I look forward to these every week – even when our son is not there. There is spirit in every word choice and sentence and it is clear that you have fostered a wonderful community. Thank you!

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