Rich Traiger: Solelim Interview and Hakarat HaTov
Submitted by Visiting Educator Sara Shapiro-Plevan
Meet Rich Traiger, the head of our Chadar Ochel (dining hall) here at Camp Ramah in New England. You can find him every single day in and around the chadar, checking to make sure that everything is in its place, and that everyone is taken care of and getting what they need. Rich is from Worcester, MA, and we’re so fortunate to have him. He discovered Ramah because his wife was a camper here, and he has been a part of the CRNE family since 2007 when he worked in the Gan. For 6 years, he has been a part of the dining room management team, and he’s the person you need to know if you want to know how it is that camp serves over 3000 meals a day. Rich had a fantastic visit with kids from Solelim this past week, who came to get to know him as a member of the behind the scenes team who makes camp happen for them. They know to thank their counselors, rashei edah and of course their parents for an amazing summer, but who else makes camp happen? Rich is one of those people!
As part of their appreciative interview, the kids asked Rich to tell some stories about the hardest part of his job. As we shared, the chadar staff serves 3000 meals a day, and Rich talked about how complicated and difficult it is to try to be organized about that food service. Who eats at what time, on what shift, in what location, is Rich’s responsibility to manage, and what needs to be served where and packed to send where makes it extra complicated. So for example, every time there is a trip out of camp, Rich is required to recalculate what is served in camp, and figure out what needs to be packed in what quanitites to take out of camp. It’s a mathematical challenge as well as a real balancing act. Rich also described to the kids a surprising discovery: he was thrilled to discover how much of the food that is served at camp is made from scratch here at camp. For example, almost all of the breads baked goods and desserts are made here by hand by the bakery team. He thought that food would come out of mixes and boxes and was so happy to discover that the vast majority of the food served here is made almost from scratch. The Solelim kids were excited to discover that Rich’s favorite part of his work is the pleasure of getting to see everyone and interact with people of all ages at least three times every day, providing for everyone’s basic needs. Say hello to Rich the next time you are in the Chadar, or ask your kids to describe the fantastic desserts that come out of the bakery and Rich’s friendliness to everyone he meets. These appreciative interviews were a part of our campers’ encounters with the big idea of hakarat hatov, gratitude and appreciation, and their exploration of the practice of giving appreciation and work to understand what it is like to receive appreciation and gratitude as well.