What a fortunate position Yavneh is in right now. Camp is thriving thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many people. We are full for both sessions. Our programming continues to be solid and we are enhancing the experience for all members of our summer community. For the past year, our community has been engaged in a strategic plan discussion. Ably led by Lisa Hills and Evan Wyner, a strong committee of alumni, alumni parents, current parents, staff members and community friends have guided us on a journey that has now gotten us to the next phase of our history.
I am honored to report that at the March meeting, the Yavneh board voted to approve a road map for the Strategic Plan. In January, the board was presented with rich data to analyze, meaningful commentary to assess and a set of initial recommendations. Lisa and Evan led us through a presentation that spoke of guiding principles that will inform our work.
Over the coming months, I, and other members of our community, will delve deeper into some of the exact priorities that the strategic plan calls for. You’ll be hearing about them through blogging, newsletters and community conversations. For now, I want to give you a look at the strategic plan from the balcony – the major areas of focus. We have started implementing some of the strategic initiatives and our children will reap the benefits this summer.
There are three key themes that surfaced that we will be focusing moving forward. I share highlights to give you a sense of our priorities and what will be coming next. The three areas being: Jewish Journey, Programming and New Opportunities.
1) Jewish Journey
“The topic of Jewish observance, camp traditions, and desired Judaic outcomes was the clear favorite of focus group participants. The richest conversations with all of the focus groups came from thoughtful reflections on defining Jewish observance and practice at Yavneh. This is a reflection of Camp Yavneh’s commitment to provide campers with a meaningful, engaging, and well-rounded Jewish camping experience and is indicative of what makes Camp Yavneh a special and unique community. Many stories highlighted examples of the Camp Yavneh ruach as a defining attribute and showed how Jewish observance is woven throughout the camp experience.”
“…While participants agreed that Camp Yavneh should not become a highly competitive sports camp or a “high-end specialty camp,” many felt that Camp Yavneh could raise the level of proficiency and skill among the counselors asked to teach and lead skill-based activities. Many felt that this would be require both recruiting some specialists who would bring expertise to a specific activity or sport and providing more structure, direction, and support for counselors asked to lead specific sports, activities and chugim (elective activities).”
3) New Opportunities
As we think about new opportunities, we contemplate Yavneh’s strengths and there are many. We have carved a unique niche in the Jewish camping world – camp is full with a waiting list. Both the board and the Hanhallah believe that we are optimally sized.
Over and over, we get requests to think of ways to engage the larger Jewish community around our KlalYisrael philosophy. As we ponder what that could look like, we are committed to staying true to our mission and are steadfast in maintaining the essence of the Yavneh way.
“While the topic of New Opportunities was proposed to be for “out of the box” ideas for Camp Yavneh to explore, it is interesting to note that most of the ideas discussed in the focus groups were around Camp Yavneh campers, alumni, and families spending more time together.”
Now the next phase of the strategic plan starts. We have a long list of initial recommendations that we are going to test theories and reality to see what makes sense for our community. Not all of the ideas will take shape but there are many that will.
A number of new committees and work groups are being formed to help us move each of these focus areas. Over the coming months, you will hear more from me, Board President Debbie Katz, and other key stakeholders as to how to make the strategic plan a reality for our camp and give you concrete examples of how we will do it.
It is going to take an investment of time, energy, and hard work to see what the Yavneh of the future will be.
On behalf of Rebecca, Raviv and Danya, I wish the entire Yavneh community all a chag kasher v’sameach.