Giving thanks to our staff and creating the leaders of tomorrow…
I’m physically settled into my first summer at camp. My bags (are mostly) unpacked and Rebecca (my wife) and I have made our space feel like home. We have brought a few creature comforts and hung some pictures on the walls.
The bigger question you may be asking is: Am I mentally prepared for camp? I’ll confidently say I am getting there because of Yavneh’s amazing tzevet (staff). There would be no way that I’d be ready without them. Each person, new and old, hanhallah, roshei aydot, madrichim, tzevet morim, office (winter and summer), specialists, facilities, and kitchen staff have all taken the extra step to make this summer another incredible one for our campers. We feel the support of each other as we get close to opening day.
I have spent the past few days with the roshei aydot (unit heads). They are an incredible group of dedicated young leaders and are jumping out of their skin to have their chanichim (campers) at camp. Our campers are beyond fortunate to have a group that is thoughtful, hard working and dedicated to the Yavneh experience. They embody all that is done well at Yavneh. Their job is to get to know every camper, mentor madrichim, and create stellar programming. After spending time with them, I am confident that the summer is going to be spectacular.
In a recent article about the summer camp experience for counselors entitled “Where Leadership Thrives: Summer Camp And The Hope For The World” the author Wayne Meisel writes, “Summer camp is the unsung hero of our culture. As a society, we tend to look at college acceptance, graduate school degrees, and professional recognition as indicators of leadership. Summer camp often gets skipped over in the interview or on the resume, but the experience should not be underestimated. Summer camp serves a critical role as a primary training ground for local and global leadership.”
This quote resonates with our hanhallah (leadership team). At our winter retreat, we each discussed how Yavneh can continue to cultivate building the leadership skills of our madrichim (counselors) and roshei aydot (unit heads) to motivate them to return to camp for additional summers. Certain core elements are key tenets of building leadership skills like collaboration (negotiating with peers), creativity (consistently developing programs for their chanichim) and building resiliency (learning not to take everything personally).
I daresay that many camps would agree with these, but what sets Yavneh apart is who has thoughtfully trained our tzevet madrichim for many years. Lisa, Davida, Meir and Jeff each have contributed to the development of these leaders. Between them they have close to 90 summers of Yavneh under their belt; their bank of knowledge of children and young adults is astounding. We can’t discount the power that their experience brings to the quality of the counselor program.
Multiple staff members have approached me to say that they want me to know that they are here to “support me” in my first summer and that “my success is their success.” It is odd because conventional wisdom would say that I should be reiterating this type of comment to them. This cements for me the reason I have always loved the Yavneh community. I hope that they all know that I am going to do everything in my power to make their success my success.
Treating each other with respect and kindness should be the true lesson that we give to the next generation of leaders.
On and on…