Why Jewish Day Schools Are Trying To Be More Like Summer Camp
JTA (The Jewish Telegraphic Agency) recently posted an interesting article on “Why Jewish Day Schools Are Trying To Be More Like Summer Camp.” The article features Oren Kaunfer, a long-time Ramahnik who has been a Visiting Educator at camp for the past several summers (and who is also the author of our camp havdallah tune!), as well as Rav Hazzan Scot Sokol, a former Ramah parent and staff-member.
Here is an excerpt:
When the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, Massachusetts, decided several years ago to hire a former MTV producer to bring a “fresh voice of Jewish spirit” to the school, it was part of a broader goal: to bring the joys of summer camp to the school year.
The institution already was on its way. A tradition had begun on Yom Kippur eve wherein the whole school dresses in white and heads to a bridge over the Charles River, where they sing, listen to stories and throw birdseed into the water as part of the traditional tashlich ritual of casting away sins.
After hiring the producer, Oren Kaunfer, as a spiritual educator, he began leading the service.
“Everyone is sitting on the ground. It’s got a camp feel to it,” Kaunfer said. “It’s taking Jewish experiences and making them more memorable and exciting and deepening them.”
Kaunfer also accompanies students on two camp-like overnight nature trips for sixth- and seventh-graders as part of the pluralistic school’s Jewish environmental education curriculum.
“When trying to describe my job, I do often say, ‘I bring camp to school,’” he said.
What that means, Kaunfer explained, is connecting students with “joyful Jewish experiences.”