A Transformative Nivonim Summer

“This was such an amazing bonding experience for me and my fellow Nivonimers!”Nivonim 2023 hanicha (camper) Lilah G.

The Nivonim experience is the culmination of one’s years as a camper at Ramah.  So many Ramah alumni tell us, over and over again, how powerful and transformative their Nivonim summer was, and how they look back at their Nivonim experience as the highlight of their camper years at Ramah.

Looking back at this kayitz (summer), it’s incredible to see how all of our 2023 Nivonimers have grown as individuals, as an edah, and as leaders at camp.  Our Nivonimers have had an incredibly fun time with their beloved camp friends, and they’ve also had many opportunities to develop their leadership skills and to impact the rest of camp in a powerful way.

This Shabbat, two Nivonimers will speak in front of the camp — one on Friday night at Kabbalat Shabbat, and one on Saturday afternoon, at Minchah — to share their reflections on their camp journey, what they’ve learned and what they’ve experienced.  (We’ll share their words with you on the blog in the coming days, after Shabbat.)

As we prepare for Shabbat Nivonim and the conclusion of kayitz 2023, we wanted to share some highlights of the Nivonim experience.

“This kayitz has really changed me as a person.” – Nivonim 2023 hanich (camper) Nathan S.

The CIT experience – A central part of Nivonim is the summer-long Hadracha (Leadership Training) Program. In Hadracha, the Nivonimers receive extensive leadership training from their counselors and other senior staff from around camp.  This training is designed to prepare them for working with and mentoring younger campers – as Madrichim/ot (counselors) in Training (MITs, or MiNis – Madrichim b’Nivonim) — and also developing and running major camp-wide programs.  These Hadracha sessions are designed to help start our Nivonimers on the journey of transition from being receivers of the Ramah experience to being transmitters of that experience.

As CITs/MiNis, our Nivonimers spent time each week with a Tzad Aleph or Tikvah tzrif (bunk).  They shadowed the tzrif’s counselors and had lots of opportunities to work with and bond with the chanichim/ot in their CIT tzrif!  Our Nivonimers also ran programming for the younger edot every Yom Meyuchad (usually on Wednesdays) this kayitz!  The Nivonimers planned and ran both peulot edah and peulot tzrif (division-wide and bunk activities).  They did an incredible job!  Our Tzad Aleph chanichim/ot loved getting to spend time doing fun games and programs with the Nivonimers, and our Nivonimers gained invaluable programming and childcare experience.

Niagara Falls trip  This kayitz, our Nivonimers inaugurated what we hope will become a new Nivonim tradition with their three-day tiyul (trip) to Niagara Falls! Thanks to the hospitality of the Syracuse Jewish community, our Nivonimers were able to use a local synagogue as their home base, and they enjoyed a day of hiking and a great time at the beach on their way to and from the falls.  This was an amazing trip!

Leading Shira As our 2023 Nivonimers grew up at camp, they have watched each summer’s Nivonimers lead Friday night and Seudah Shlishit (Saturday night dinner) shira (singing) in the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) and Bitan (Pavilion).  It was joyous to watch this year’s Nivonimers step up and take on this role themselves.  Standing on safsalim (benches) in our Chadar Ochel and standing in the center of our Bitan (Pavilion), the Nivonimers led their fellow campers in energetic, ruach-filled song-sessions all summer-long!  This was just one of many ways in which this summer’s Nivonimers stepped up to be the leaders of camp.

Kishroniyah – Our multi-day Kishroniyah program is a highlight of the Tzad Bet program, and it was incredible to see how passionately our Niv ’23 kids jumped into the special experiences that Kishroniyah offered them.  Click here for more details on this summer’s extraordinary Kishroniyah program.  Lilah reflects that the Lifeguarding Kishroniyah, in which she and the other Nivonimers in her group got lifeguard certified, was “such an amazing bonding experience for me and my fellow Nivonimers.  We had to depend on each other and trust that we would be saved by them during the certification drills.”  Molly, who was in Robotics Kishroniyah, shares: “I was nervous about Kishroniyah, but I absolutely have loved my experience in robotics.  In robotics we’ve been encouraged to experiment and try new things!  I feel very successful and happy with my robot!”  Nate, who was in Ultimate Frisbee Kishroniyah, says: “Alex and Rick Atkins [our Ultimate Frisbee Kishroniyah coaches] have encouraged me like no other, and they have really changed me as a person and an Ultimate player.”

Yom Sport At no point during the summer were our Nivonimers more front-and-center before the entire camp than when it came to Yom Sport.  Our Nivonimers planned and ran this entire day-and-a-half-long program for the entire camp, and they did an amazing job!  Click here to read Rabbi Gelb’s detailed and insightful reflections on this year’s Yom Sport, and how it transformed these Nivonimers and how they were able to be incredible role models for our younger chanichim/ot.  Here’s a snippet of Rabbi Gelb’s blog post:

“On Wednesday night, I witnessed our 11th graders transform into Nivonim 2023. After leading the entire camp for more than twenty-four hours and witnessing the announcement of the winners, they stood there, drenched in glorious perspiration, embracing, laughing, and even shedding a few tears, fully comprehending their remarkable accomplishment. While the winners relished their victory, no one dwelled on defeat. They understood that the day held far greater significance.”

It’s been an amazing summer… and it’s not over yet!  We’re ready and excited for adat ha-Nivonim 2023 to take center stage this Shabbat for Shabbat Nivonim.


Categories: Director, Nivonim