My Experience as a Ramah Staff Member by Sharon Nerenberg

The Gan (garden) at Camp Ramah New England is the “day camp” for children whose parents work at camp but who aren’t old enough to be campers who live in bunks. This is the first summer that I have worked in the Gan.

I work a ten-hour shift, five days a week, for eight weeks. I work with at least six staff members. With the other Gan staff members, I watch ten to fifteen kids, ranging in age from two to seven.

My role in the Gan is to make sure that I take care of the campers who have been assigned to me throughout the day. I get them changed when needed, make sure they are drinking and eating and participating in their activities, and most of all, that they are having fun with their friends.

What brings me the most happiness in the Gan is when my campers are happy with each other, and I can help problem-solve situations that sometimes do not go well. The most challenging things that I discovered when being a Gan staff member is taking care of my campers but also taking care of myself, all at the same time. It’s also been hard to talk to my campers who speak only Hebrew, but I always advocate for myself and ask my co-workers to help with the Hebrew speaking. It gets very difficult when my campers do not want to listen when I speak to them to prevent possible dangerous accidents.

I was in the Voc Ed Program, which is part of the Tikvah Program, for only two summers before becoming a staff member this summer for the first time. The Voc Ed program helped to prepare me for working in the Gan. I learned to be independent so that I can be independent with my campers around camp. I also learned how to advocate for myself and to communicate with my co-workers when I need to.

I am currently at Gwynedd Mercy University and about to go into my junior year studying Education. For my freshman and sophomore year I was in the special education program, but I have outgrown what is offered in that program and starting in the Fall I will be going into an Associate Degree program. I have been taking lots of Education classes to learn more about child development. During my sophomore year, I was assigned to a school that was an Early Learning Academy and did the Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP) so that I could get lots of practice working with children, which helped to prepare me for working in the Gan.