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2015 Spring Staff Training Institute, Part 2

Eva Jablow headshotBy Guest Blogger Eva Jablow, National Ramah Programming Associate

Walking through Ramah New England, basketball hoops are being netted, tents are being structured, and it’s clear that the first day of camp is truly in sight. It’s sad to see the National Ramah Spring Staff Training Institute come to an end, but the excitement for the reality of summer is evident.

“This week has been very eye-opening,” said Jaime Leff, a URJ Camp Jacobs staff member and participant in the Ramah Tikvah Network track for special needs staff. “It’s fascinating to see the practice of a different community.” Though Jaime has a degree in special needs education, she will be new to the staff at Jacobs.  “I’m familiar with the material we’re covering, but it’s incredibly helpful to be here and start the transition of bringing it into the camp environment.”

National Ramah Tikvah Track

Special needs staff from Ramah, URJ & YJ camps

Jazmine Morgan, a staff member at URJ Camp Coleman, has a similar reaction to jumping into this program. “It’s been a real learning experience, seeing how each camp and each program works individually.” Jazmine works as an inclusion specialist and supports one particular camper each summer. “Through talking to staff from all of the camps, I’m really working towards focusing on the community that surrounds my camper, rather than simply focusing on her.”

While Jaime and Jazmine are witnessing the differences and similarities between two camp movements, many of the dedicated staff members here at the Spring Training Institute are feeling this sense of culture sharing between different Ramah camps as well.

Daber fellows sharing some Hebrew games

Daber fellows sharing some Hebrew games

“I never went to Ramah as a camper,” said David Iken, a Daber fellow from Ramah Nyack. “Being on staff has been great, but being a part of this program and seeing all of the ruach that’s here has really shown me the power of the movement as a whole.”

Elan Keshen, a first-time rosh edah at Ramah in the Rockies, is thrilled to be here. “I’m just soaking up every second I have.” At first, it seemed a bit daunting how different the Rockies program is structured from other Ramah camps, but he is “surrounded by so many experienced leaders who know Ramah and its values so well.” Elan said, “I would never have an opportunity otherwise to access all of these brains. I can sit down with Mitch, Amy, or any of the veteran rashei edah and ask the experts: Given my context, how can I apply all of this week to my own summer?

Rabbi Ami Hersh, Assistant Director of Ramah Nyack, leads a workshop on how to run tefillot for younger campers

Rabbi Ami Hersh, Assistant Director of Ramah Nyack, leads a workshop on how to run tefillot for younger campers

It is these relationships and this sharing of ideas that make diverse programs so crucial to the betterment of Jewish experiential education across the board. This incredible group of motivated staff members will be walking into their summers with a contact list of cross-movement resources, and a pocket full of programs, educational strategies and creative tricks at their fingertips.

The beauty of the cycle of camp is that these staff members — who are fully equipped to promote inclusion, to infuse Hebrew into daily programming, and to lead highly effective and inspired staffs of counselors — are the role models for our next cohort of Jewish leaders in camp.

Rashei edah enjoy a Palmer favorite -- Rondeau's ice cream!

Rashei edah enjoy a Palmer favorite — Rondeau’s ice cream!

As Amy Skopp Cooper explains, “You pass on what you’ve learned and nurture your staff, and soon they’ll be sitting in your seats.” As we continue to inspire and diversify who is sitting in these seats, there’s no telling where these young leaders will go and how many lives they’ll change.

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