Nivonim Campers Embark on their Journey to Become Camp Leaders

The Nivonim experience represents an important milestone for our oldest chanichim (campers). It is both the culmination of their journeys through the edot (divisions) and the start of a new chapter as leaders within the camp.

Under the leadership of long-time Rosh Nivonim Andy Weissfeld, Nivonimers participate in a summer-long Hadracha (Leadership Training) Program in which they receive training and lead younger chanichim (campers) as Madrichim (counselors) in Training (MITs) and as the heads of major camp-wide programs, such as Yom Sport. Through training and direct experience, they transition from being the receivers to the transmitters of the Ramah experience.

Already, just over a week since their arrival at camp, the MITs already have important responsibilities.  They spend two mornings each week (from about 8am-1:30pm) with younger chanichim, in Kochavim through Bogrim (ages 8-14), and with Amitzim, the edah for chanichim with disabilities. As Macie Gelb, a member of the Nivonim tzevet (staff) put it, Nivonimers “like interacting with the younger campers and take their responsibility as camp leaders very seriously. They are channeling their ‘inner counselor’ as they learn to plan camp programs and meet the needs of young campers.”

Each Wednesday at camp is a Yom Meyuchad, a special day of activities throughout the camp while some of the madrichim (counselors) have a day off. This past Wednesday, the MITs jumped right in to help the younger chanichim at meals, t’fillot and nikayon (clean-up time). They also planned and executed peulot tzrif (bunk activities) and helped to run peulot edah (unit activities).

Fun edah activities included Me’ah Milim Charades (part of our program to learn 100 important Hebrew words) and a derby-style battle of the tzrifim. Silly activities and games for the peulot tzrif included making pet rocks; “Soaptimate” (like Ultimate frisbee but with slippery soap!); tug-of-war; and dress up your MIT!

Several of the Nivonimers reflected on their day with the younger chanichim. Eliana M. noted that while it was hard to command the attention of a large group of Solelimers, it was a great learning experience. For Joel H., the experience running Soaptimate for his assigned tzrif was very rewarding: it was an active and fun game, with all of the chanichim actively participating. Naava K. said it was “exhausting but exhilarating” to help a group of young Kochavimers “with big personalities” work together to create a skit. Bea K. finds a “positive group of people and a positive environment” in her work with Amitzim. She appreciated helping the chanichim engage in open-ended activities that allow them to participate in their own ways.

Through intensive involvement with younger campers, like their experiences helping with Yom Meyuchad on Wednesday, Nivonimers are quickly building their leadership skills – and have embarked on their journey to become the leaders of camp.